February 16, 2006
Contra Costa Times
Mary B. Moorhead

AFTER SPENDING Saturday amid a crowd of Pacific Masters swimmers competing in a full day of races, I returned home to discover I’d left behind my favorite goggles, team cap and water bottle.

Annoyed with myself, I passed it off to the day’s copious details, including navigating a new swim complex, registration and numerous forms to fill out, getting in and out of the pool 15 times, changing suits between races, tracking my events, concentrating on techniques, race rules and constant announcements, and chatting with fellow swimmers.

That evening, while perusing the American Society on Aging’s newspaper Aging Today, an article popped out at me. It announced that my memory lapse was caused by sensory overload and aging.

In his article “Building Better Brains — From Lab to Laptop,” neuroscientist Michael Merzenich offers a new angle on the normal, gradual slowing of our brains that starts at about age 40. He and other researchers believe these changes are preventable, and perhaps reversible. And they have formed a company, Posit Science, as well as a computer-based Brain Fitness Program, available for purchase.

There is some very serious research supporting Posit Science’s work and this program. Merzenich is a Posit Science co-founder and its chief scientific officer, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a nutshell, San Francisco-based Posit Science aims to transform neuroscientific research into practical, fun, programs to help us maintain agile minds. Intriguingly, the Brain Fitness Program aims to improve memory by teaching us to focus and retain information, especially in environments where there is sensory overload, such as my swim meet.

Apparently, there’s a vital link between listening, focusing and remembering. This is important, because much of the information we take in daily comes by way of hearing. These concepts are explained more fully on the Web site www.positscience.com.