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January 12, 2009

Posted by Dr. Rohn Kessler in Uncategorized.

Adult Brain Training Software Makes the New York Times

Posted on August 30, 2007 | Filed Under neurogenesis, brain drain, attention training, add parents, neuroplasticity, alternative treatment, concentration, brain injury, brain, education, discipline, add, dementia, neuroscience, news

The New York Times noted that with companies making millions of dollars on brain-building digital toys like Baby Einstein, it was inevitable that “Grandpa Einstein” software was next.

“Calisthenics for the Older Mind, on the Home Computer” goes on to explain several new brain fitness programs aimed at aging consumers.

Article here.

How effective are these programs? The Times quotes Timothy Salthouse, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia: “The scientific evidence for those commercial products is still very weak. Manufacturers and companies have jumped into this without doing the research to prove that their products enhance cognitive function or delay mental decline.”

I agree that many companies are jumping on the brain training bandwagon before thoroughly researching the success of their programs, but there is scientific research on the effectiveness of computerized cognitive training (click here).

Even Dr. Salthouse agrees that you can teach an old brain new tricks and that “recent research in neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to change in response to information and new activities — shows that brain cells and neural pathways continue to develop throughout life.”

At Sparks of Genius (www.sparksofgenius.com) adults work with a Personal Trainer and a combination of software programs to improve memory, processing speed, listening and executive function skills. In addition, we identify, ignite and nurture the many ways they are smart – their sparks of genius.

Research shows that mentally stimulating activities – novel and complex stimuli- are health-promoting for the brain.
Unfortunately, translating this research into specific mental workouts to postpone cognitive decline may be far from easy.”

The article notes that Dr. Marc Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist has started to use one of the new programs at the new “brain gym” at the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged.
He is offering the software “as an option to people like a couple who came to him last month, frustrated by memory problems that the wife had suffered since having surgery the previous year. A few months ago, Dr. Agronin said, he would have had nothing to offer them.

“But now I could say to the husband, ‘Take this home, put it on the computer and get your wife started,’ ” he said. “Part of having hope is having tangible therapies you can bring to people…I do want to see more data, but I’m not waiting for that.”

At Sparks of Genius we are using this new technology to help people now. It is not easy to optimize and individualize these computerized cognitive training programs, and it’s more challenging if you just buy the software and adopt a one size fits all approach. As the article states, “translating this research into specific mental workouts to postpone cognitive decline may be far from easy.”

What makes Sparks of Genius special is that we customize a brain fitness progress for each client using a combination of software products rather than one particular product. And we don’t just send people out with software. Our personal trainers monitor and fine tune their program. They motivate them and devise strategies that work.

We don’t just work on deficits. At Sparks of Genius we celebrate who our clients are, helping them to access and maximize their creative potential using the multiple intelligences.

Optimistically, the new software will keep on improving and scientific research will show us under what conditions and with what populations it is effective. In the meantime, we are using the latest in technological advances to help people now.

–Rohn Kessler, Ed. D.



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