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Now Hear This: Brain Fitness Exercises Improve Listening
Date:3/5/2009

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Brain fitness training makes you a better listener says Michael Merzenich, PhD, who delivers the Carhart Memorial Lecture today at the American Auditory Society annual meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Dr. Merzenich's talk is entitled "Hearing and the Brain Plasticity Revolution." He will discuss recent results from the IMPACT Study, which are being published next month in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. An advance copy of the breakthrough study, led by researchers from the University of Southern California and the Mayo Clinic, has been released online.

A total of 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 participated in the randomized controlled trial. Half were assigned to a group that trained for a total of 40 hours over the course of 8 weeks on cognitive training software - the Brain Fitness Program(TM) from Posit Science(R). The other half spent an equal amount of time learning from educational lectures delivered via computer and followed by quizzes.

The Brain Fitness Program was developed by a global team of neuroscientists to improve auditory processing and memory. It consists of six exercises done on a computer and is based on the science of brain plasticity - the ability of the brain to change in response to cognitive stimulation.

The study found that participants who trained on the software more than doubled their auditory processing speed, with an average increase of 131%. They also saw gains on standard measures of memory and attention of 10 years, on average. Perhaps most importantly, these changes were big enough that participants reported significant improvements in every day activities (such as remembering what people said or understanding conversations in noisy restaurants). The gains of the brain exercise group were clinically significant; the gains of the lecture group were significantly smaller and not clinically significant.

Treva Kean Strauss, aged 82, of Novato, California participated in the brain exercise half of the study. "After participating in the IMPACT study I saw improvements in my memory, my attention and even my hearing," said Ms. Strauss. "It was a wonderful experience."

When speech comes in more rapidly than the brain can process it reliably, or when it is processed with degraded accuracy, it results in people saying they missed what was said. They may attribute it to a bad phone connection, to a noisy room or to someone not speaking clearly. These problems in hearing are not really problems with reception by the ear, rather they are problems in brain processing. Such difficulties commonly lead to difficulty in hearing, in being attentive and in remembering what was said.

By addressing the speed and accuracy of auditory processing, the software improves the ability to hear in common real life situations where people may speak quickly or in noisy environments. The recent study showed that better auditory signal processing goes beyond making someone a good listener to actually improving memory and attention - leading to fuller function in every day life.

"This is the beginning of a revolution in brain health," said Dr. Merzenich.

Dr. Merzenich is Professor Emeritus at the University of California San Francisco, where he continues to maintain a research lab he has run for three decades. He is the Co-founder and Chief Scientist of Posit Science. Dr. Merzenich also is the co-founder of Scientific Learning (Nasdaq: SCIL) and is the co-inventor of the cochlear implant marketed by Advanced Bionics. He has been elected by his peers to both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and is the recipient of numerous awards. He may be best known to lay audiences for his featured role in two documentaries on the science of brain fitness now running on public television.

About Posit Science:

Posit Science is the leading provider of clinically validated brain fitness programs. The company works with more than 50 scientists from prestigious universities to design and test its computer-based programs. More than 30 published peer reviewed papers show that in randomized controlled trials the company's patented technologies significantly increase processing speed, improve memory and attention, and enhance the quality of everyday life. While such benefits have been shown across groups in studies, individual results will vary. In addition, at this time, Posit Science makes no claims with respect to the prevention or treatment of any disease. Posit Science has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and has received numerous awards and accolades. The company's products, scientists and science are currently featured in the PBS documentaries "The Brain Fitness Program" and "Brain Fitness 2: Sight and Sound." In addition to being sold direct to consumer via the company's website, its products are distributed without charge to policyholders by leading health, long term care and auto insurers, are sold by hundreds of authorized providers and are used in hundreds of daily classes at retirement communities, adult education programs and hospitals. For more information, visit www.PositScience.com or call 1-800-599-6463.


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SOURCE Posit Science
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