September 19, 2008

(Perth, Australia) Western Australians will be the first in the country to take part in a brain fitness initiative that has been shown to improve a person’s ability to think faster, focus better and remember more.

The brain health initiative will be launched by Australia’s Aged Care Commissioner Rhonda Parker on behalf of Alzheimer’s Australia WA at the Duxton Hotel on September 19th as part of Dementia Awareness Week 2008.

More than 30 peer-reviewed papers report on randomized controlled trials using the technology now being offered in two cognitive training software programs being distributed by Alzheimer’s Australia WA. The studies show that participants using the software programs more than doubled their processing speed and had gains of more than 10 years in standardized measures of memory and attention. This has led to significant lifestyle benefits for people experiencing normal age-related changes in brain function.

Alzheimer’s Australia WA General Manager David Gribble said the programs that will be offered in Australia were developed and extensively trialled by US company Posit Science in conjunction with one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, Dr Mike Merzenich, and his team at the University of California. The programs have also been extensively researched over many years by renowned research institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, University of Southern California and Stanford University.

“The results from these studies have shown that people who went through the brain fitness program added about 10 years to their cognitive abilities and memory functions,” Mr Gribble said.

“This meant people were more likely to live independently for longer, while reducing their health care expenditure and experience a better quality of life.”

Mr Gribble said staying mentally active has long been recommended as a way to reduce the risk of dementia which, due to the aging population, is set to become the nation’s number one cause of disability burden in less than 10 years.

“Brain training may also deliver social and economic benefits, as there is evidence to suggest that if people feel in control and are thinking sharper, they are less likely to contemplate an early retirement,” he said.

Alzheimer’s Australia WA identified Posit Science’s brain fitness programs as the world’s most effective memory and sensory enhancement products following an extensive two-year search, and a review undertaken by the Centre for Research on Ageing at Curtin University of Technology.

Posit Science Vice-President Eric Mann said the brain fitness programs were designed with the older person in mind and are very easy to use.

“They are meant to be used 40-60 minutes a day and for a total of 10 to 40 hours over a 90 day period in order to match the results shown in the studies,” he said. “Of course, many people decide just to incorporate brain exercise into their regimen for 3-5 hours a week on a continuous basis.”

The levels of scientific scrutiny that have gone into the programs were more extensive than any study into the effectiveness of specific mental activities such as doing crosswords and Sudoku.

Australia’s Aged Care Commissioner Rhonda Parker said that maintaining mental sharpness is one of the keys to successful aging.

“Brain fitness training challenges the notion that we are somehow pre-programmed to inevitable decline in later life. In fact, the data shows that much of the decline in later life is the result of lifestyle choices, and training the brain works in the same way that fitness training benefits the body,” Ms Parker said.

She said studies have shown that the brain’s natural plasticity means the brain has the capacity to grow and change right up until death, enabling brain fitness training to not only slow decline in mental sharpness, but reverse some of the loss already experienced.

“As people live longer, mental fitness is as important as physical fitness as we look for ways to extend quality across all our days,’ she said.

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Notes to editors:

  • Alzheimer’s Australia WA is the state’s peak body providing information, support, advocacy and education for people with dementia, their families and carers. Log on to or call the Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 for more information on services and support.
  • Posit Science is the leading provider of clinically proven brain fitness products and services. The company works with more than 50 scientists from prestigious universities to design and test its computer-based programs. Studies show that the company’s patented technologies significantly increase the brain’s processing speed, improve memory, and enhance the quality of everyday life. For more information visit
  • Dementia Awareness Week, 19-26 September 2008, this year carries the theme ‘Mind your Mind – and reduce the risk of dementia’. There is a growing body of evidence that it may be possible to reduce the risk of developing dementia, or delay the onset.
  • Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in the functioning of a person’s brain. The effects of dementia include loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and what would be considered normal emotional reactions. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 50-70% of all cases.
  • Across Australia, there are currently 227,000 people with dementia, and this number is predicted to be more than 731,000 by 2050 unless there is a medical breakthrough to delay or avoid the onset of dementia. There will be approximately 57,000 new cases of dementia in Australia this year.
  • The Brain Fitness Initiative incorporates:
    1. Brain Fitness Program Classic(tm)
      • Designed to improve your listening skills and memory.
      • Remember what you hear – a new person’s name, telephone numbers, the description of the toy your granddaughter wants, the tasks assigned to you in a meeting;
      • Communicate more effectively by keeping up with conversations; and
      • Pick up more details in conversations, music and movies.
    2. InSight(tm) Designed to improve your visual skills and memory.
      • Improve visual processing speed by 300% and useful field of view by 200%;
      • Drive better – avoid collisions by tracking cars more effectively, cutting down on dangerous moves and stopping sooner.
      • React more quickly when playing tennis, walking in a crowded area and in other situations that require quick responses.

Media Contact: Alzheimer’s Australia: Joel Chan – (08) 9388 2800 / 0402 222 100