October 15, 2006

(ATLANTA, GA) Scientists may have unlocked why memory and other cognitive abilities decline with age. Underlying deficits in the speed and accuracy of brain processing are highly correlated to declines in memory and attention, according to researchers from Posit Science, who presented a series of studies this week at the Society for Neuroscience, a gathering of 30,000 brain scientists.

“We found a common pattern across a number of measures,” said Travis Wade, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “Across the lifespan, there is a decline in processing speed, processing accuracy and memory. We can measure the start of this decline in one’s 20s and 30s and we can clearly see it accelerates in later decades.”

“This study strongly supports the notion that the typical age-related decline in memory and attention is a consequence of increasing deficits in elemental brain functions, such as processing speed and processing accuracy,” said Henry Mahncke, Ph.D., head of the research team at Posit Science.

“If signals from our senses become ‘noisy’ because they are inaccurately processed or arrive more rapidly than we can reliably process them, it is hard to be attentive about that information, remember it or make use of it,” Dr. Mahncke observed. “By addressing these underlying deficits in speed and accuracy we should be able to improve the capture and recall of information and its use in daily life.”

The study involved 130 healthy adults aged 18 to 90. The subjects were tested using five different computer-delivered assessments. Each assessment used algorithms to vary stimuli based on earlier responses and to precisely determine an individual’s capabilities.

“Dr. Wade developed novel and extremely accurate computer-delivered assessment tools,” Dr. Mahncke observed. “Most pencil and paper tests of cognition are designed to identify dementia or other disorders and have a high degree of variability, making them less than ideal for measuring changes in healthy populations over the lifespan. These assessments use complex algorithms to quickly “zero in” on an individual’s actual performance with a high degree of reliability.”

The research team at Posit Science has developed a computer-based training regimen, marketed as the Brain Fitness Program, to address deficits in speed and accuracy and to improve memory and other cognitive abilities. In an article published this week in Progress in Brain Research, the Posit Science team presented study results showing that this approach improves memory and cognition.