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Brain Training Keeps Older Drivers Safe Behind the Wheel
Date:9/16/2009

WARREN, Mich., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Posit Science co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Michael Merzenich spoke today as the keynote speaker at The Eye and The Auto international conference, held at General Motors Technical Center campus. Dr. Merzenich spoke about the impact brain fitness training has on helping drivers maintain their ability to keep driving longer safely and under varied conditions. These clinically-validated results are based on two studies led by cognitive aging and driving expert Jerri D. Edwards, PhD, and recently published in The Gerontologist, a leading journal on aging issues, and in the Journals of Gerontology, Medical Sciences.

The first study, The Staying Keen in Later Life (SKILL), funded by the National Institutes of Health, included 500 healthy adults aged 60 and older. Researchers divided the participants and followed them for three years. The group of drivers who were at higher risk for an accident engaged in computer-based cognitive training exercises over five weeks for a total of ten hours. Researchers found that the high-risk drivers who did the brain fitness training lowered their risk similar to the low-risk driving control group. This high-risk group of drivers continued throughout the three years to maintain the amount they drove and improved their confidence in driving under varied conditions such as poor weather, driving at night and in high traffic.

The second study combined data from the SKILL study with the same inclusion criteria from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study to measure driving cessation. Dr. Edwards and her team in the combined study found that brain training delays the end of driving for older drivers who have speed of processing difficulties. Prior studies have found that the interactive software exercise improved older drivers' ability to respond quickly to driving decisions, which helped them maintain their ability to continue driving safely and with confidence.

"Science has brought us new ways to improve and extend driving," said Dr. Edwards, assistant professor at the University of South Florida and lead author on the studies. "It does not need to be a choice between uneasiness about continued driving and negative outcomes that come from taking away the keys because we can now train older drivers to improve their driving skills."

The brain fitness exercises used in the two studies are now commercially available to the public in a software program called DriveSharp from Posit Science. DriveSharp, which retails for $139, is recommended by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and is available from AAA auto clubs at the introductory price of $99. For more information, visit www.drivesharp.com .

About Posit Science

Posit Science is the leader in delivering clinically proven brain fitness software into the hands of consumers. The Posit Science team brings brain science from the lab to the people, improving everyday lives. The company combines breakthrough research and a focus on great customer experiences to create products that are engaging and help users think faster, focus better and remember more. Staff neuroscientists collaborate with more than 50 scientists from leading research institutions as well as engineers and product marketers to design, build and test our computer-based programs. Posit Science products are available online, through health, long term care and auto insurers, and from public television's "The Brain Fitness Program" documentary. For more information, visit www.PositScience.com or call 1-866-599-6463.

About Dr. Michael Merzenich

As co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Posit Science, Michael Merzenich heads the company's global team. For more than three decades, Dr. Merzenich has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research. In the late 1980s, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that invented the cochlear implant, now distributed by market leader Advanced Bionics. In 1996, Dr. Merzenich was the founding CEO of Scientific Learning Corporation, which markets and distributes software that applies principles of brain plasticity to assist children with language learning and reading. Dr. Merzenich has published more than 200 articles, including many in leading peer-reviewed journals (such as Science and Nature), received numerous awards and prizes (including the Ipsen Prize, Zulch Prize, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Purkinje Medal), and been granted more than 50 patents for his work. Dr. Merzenich earned his BS degree at the University of Portland and his PhD at Johns Hopkins. He retired from his long career as Francis A. Sooy Professor and Co-Director of the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California at San Francisco in 2007. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and will be inaugurated into the Institute of Medicine later this year. You can view Dr. Merzenich's blog at http://merzenich.positscience.com/.

Posit Science is a registered trademark and DriveSharp is a trademark of Posit Science Corp. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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