(SAN FRANCISCO) – Posit Science Co-Founder Dr. Michael Merzenich will lend his expert perspective on how to help your brain age well in the special “Incredible Aging: Adding Life to Your Years,” which premieres this week across the United States on local public television stations.
The documentary is hosted by Meredith Vieira and includes interviews with 19 leading experts in aging, who shed light on the complex and often confusing information around healthy aging. These legends in aging research help set forth a blueprint for what people can do to maintain vibrancy and age successfully.
Dr. Merzenich is globally recognized for his research in brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to change chemically, structurally, and functionally, based on sensory and other inputs. He performed the seminal experiments that led to the discovery that the brain remains plastic throughout life. Dr. Merzenich has pioneered the application of brain plasticity to improve the human condition – first, in his co-invention of the cochlear implant (which restored hearing to people living with deafness, by providing the brain with new electrical inputs); and, more recently, in the development of plasticity-based computerized brain training.
This is the sixth time that Dr. Merzenich and his company, Posit Science, have contributed to a public television special – and not just with their science expertise, but also with gifts for donors, during public television fundraising pledge drives. This show offers donors a one-year subscription to BrainHQ, which is the online brain exercise and assessment platform from Posit Science, along with the book Disrupt Aging by Jo Ann Jenkins, the cookbook Eat Live by Joel Fuhrman, and the DVD “Easy Yoga: The Secret to Strength and Balance” with Peggy Capp.
BrainHQ contains dozens of brain exercises that personalize to each user within minutes. Because BrainHQ is cloud-based, users can access it from most internet-connected computers, tablets, and smartphones. BrainHQ takes a unique bottom-up approach, focusing on brain speed and attention, as foundational to higher cognitive function, such as memory and reasoning.
While the exercises in BrainHQ have a game-like look and feel, they are based on serious science. A 2017 systematic comparison (published in Neuropsychological Review) found most brain exercise products targeting older adults had zero evidence of efficacy, but that BrainHQ was the only commercially-available product backed by multiple high-quality studies.
There are now more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles on the benefits of BrainHQ, which include better performance at standard measures of cognition (e.g., speed, attention, memory), at standard measures of quality of life (e.g., mood, confidence, health-related quality of life), and at real-world activities (e.g., balance, driving, everyday cognition). Recent studies also have shown a positive impact on brain chemistry and structure.
This pledge drive season, Dr. Merzenich also is featured in the public television documentary “Brain Secrets with Dr. Michael Merzenich,” hosted by Maria Shriver, which focuses on how people can achieve and maintain cognitive fitness. That program offers public television donors a one-year subscription to BrainHQ, a copy of Dr. Merzenich book Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life, as well as a DVD library of five prior “brain fitness” specials featuring Dr. Merzenich.