Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Medical Reports: Brain Game
Can't find your car keys? Have trouble remembering a co-worker's name? Play a game. There are new computer programs that could help you make sure your brain does not age faster than you do. Check out these brain games.
WSVN -- For many of us, life is like a game of memory.
Fifty-one-year-old Particia Thorp runs a successful PR firm, but she faces one big obstacle. She often can't put a face with a name.
Patricia Thorp: "I still think that's my nemesis, remembering people's name."
Or remembering where she parked her car.
Patricia Thorp: "It's not that fun coming out of a meeting or coming out of an airport or coming out of a shopping mall and having to go around and around walking, feeling like an idiot, trying to find your car."
But memory loss can be more than embarassing, it can be downright scary.
At age 37, Art Larralde is still young and sharp, but he's worried about what old age will bring.
Art Larralde: "Both my grandparents, on my mom's side developed Alzheimer's in their late 70s and 80s, and I watched them deteroriate."
To keep their minds sharp, Art and Patricia are both buffing up their brains with new computer games.
Art Larralde: "You know that feeling when you come out of the gym, where you're kind of tired but really energized? It's a similar feeling when you're done with these exercises."
These new games are a sort of personal trainer for your mind. They start you off easy, then get harder to challenge your mind.
Yuval Malinsky: "You see different exercises each time you do it, so we are trying to surprise you in a way, teach you new things and help you in building new connections and new cells every time you do the exercises."
For instance with Mind Fit, one exercise requires you to remember the path of a hot air balloon.
This works on the part of the brain that helps you remember directions or where you parked your car.
Brain Fitness forces you to listen to words and sounds and then match them in order.
Art Larralde: "This one can get very complicated."
Complicated but, neurologists say, beneficial to the brain.
Dr. Jeff Steinberg: "They do work, and that's the exciting part. If you do mental exercises, you can improve your cognition, your thought process."
We played a game of our own.
With Art, we let him study 14 random words.
One hour later, he remebered half.
How do you feel about that?
Art Larralde: "Well, it's pretty good."
With Patricia, we gave her 10 names to remember since that's her weakness.
An hour later:
Patricia Thorp: "The first is Brent, then there's Diana, then there's Angela, then there's Johnnie, then there's Laura, then there's Katie, Richard, Jana, Marc and Stefanie.
Art and Patricia agree. They are really getting a brain boost.
Art Larralde: "I take less time to recall information, and I'm just sharper."
Patricia Thorp: "I'm much better when it comes to multi-tasking now."
By the way, she's also getting better at remembering where she parks her car.
Neurologists also say doing crossword puzzles and reading books on a daily basis can be just as effective for boosting your brain.
The trick is doing it frequently and making it challenging.
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