February 17, 2009
Staff Reporter

Conventional wisdom tells us that advancing age slows down memory.

But some researchers suggest the brain is plastic and, with the right training, you can keep it up to speed no matter how old you are.

The University of Southern California is studying a computerized brain fitness program.

‘Brain fitness’ is based on neuroplasticity – the science that suggests the brain is plastic and can physically change and rejuvenate at any age.

That is, if you put it through the proper mental workout.

“It’s not just repeating activities over and over again, like crossword puzzles,” said Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski. “It’s doing something new. It’s doing something that really challenges that seems to make the difference.”

Program developers claim ‘brain fitness’ exercises boost memory by challenging the senses.

For example, in one task you hear a sound and click if the tone goes up or down.

There are varying degrees of difficulty.

But older participants who took on the challenge improved memory and reversed their brain’s age.

“They were performing like people ten years younger than themselves on memory tests,” said Dr. Zelinski.

Some increased their ability to process information by 131 percent and a three-month follow-up study showed the improvement stuck.

A five-year follow up on participants is currently under way.

Other exercises that may help rejuvenate your brain include learning a new language or taking up a musical instrument for the first time.

The brain fitness program is available to the public.

It costs about $400.

For more information visit www.positscience.com.