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Brain Exercises Sharpen Memory in Older Adults

Researchers Hit Trifecta: Better at Tasks, Memory, Everyday Life

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The right kind of brain exercise enhances memory and other cognitive abilities of older adults, according to researchers presenting today at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, a gathering of 3500 aging experts held this week in San Francisco.

Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski of the University of Southern California Andrus Gerontology Center in Los Angeles, released initial data from the IMPACT (Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training) study. She is one of the trial's principal investigators.

The IMPACT Study is the largest study ever done on aging and cognitive training using a publicly available training program. In this prospective, randomized, controlled, double blind trial of 524 healthy adults (aged 65 and older), half the participants completed up to 40 hours of the computer-based Posit Science Brain Fitness Program. The other half, who followed the traditional advice that older people will benefit from new learning, completed up to 40 hours of a computer-based educational training program.

The group that engaged in the Posit Science program showed significantly superior gains in standardized, clinical measures of memory equal to approximately 10 years. This is the first research study to show generalization to untrained standardized measures of memory using a publicly available cognitive training program.

Participants in the Posit Science program also showed significant gains in how they perceived their memory and cognitive abilities. This included questions of everyday tasks such as remembering names and phone numbers or where they had left their keys as well as communication abilities and feelings of self-confidence.

"This study represents a 'gold-standard' approach to answering the questions that many people have about computerized training programs for memory," Dr. Zelinski said.

"The changes we saw in the experimental group were significantly larger than the gains in the control group," Dr. Zelinski said. "From a researcher's point of view, this was remarkable -- people got better at the tasks trained, those improvements generalized to various standardized measures of memory, and people perceived improvements in their lives."

"My memory improved after I participated in the study," said Marlene Allen of Mill Valley, California, a study participant. "I also felt better and a lot more energized. I really had fun doing the training."

Dr. John Smith of San Anselmo is a semi-retired dentist, still working part-time. He finds that he functions well at work and gave the program credit for his interactions there. "I'm quicker to respond to questions and my memory is better."

"This is a very important study," said Dr. Ron Ruff, a member of the study's Data Review Committee and a former President of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, who is now on the faculty at the University of California at San Francisco. "This clearly demonstrates that if healthy older adults engage in the right kind of cognitive training activities, they can enhance their cognitive abilities. This provides a prescription for what we should do as we age."

About Posit Science

Posit Science Corporation develops science-based brain health programs. The company works with more than 50 brain scientists from leading universities around the world to create training programs that enhance cognitive performance. Its assessments and exercises are based on neuroplasticity -- the brain's ability to "rewire" through intensive, repetitive and progressively challenging activity. The company's Brain Fitness Program is distributed without charge by Humana to its Medicare Advantage members, is licensed to more than 150 retirement communities nationwide, is sold online, and by Authorized Providers. Posit Science has received several grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Posit Science was named "Best Small Company" by the American Society on Aging, was named "Best Fitness Initiative" by the Consumer Health World Conference and was selected as one of the "medical breakthroughs of the year" by CNBC. For more information visit or call 800.514.3975.

SOURCE Posit Science Corporation
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