Can a fitness program for your brain improve thinking and concentration the way lifting weights can increase muscle strength?
From crossword puzzles and Sudoku to Nintendo and computer games, there are a growing number of options promoting brain exercise as a method to keep your mind young.
As we age, we experience changes in how we perceive the information that our eyes and ears gather from the environment. Specifically, older adults combine information from the different senses more readily than do younger adults. This can lead to difficulties in blocking out distracting sights and sounds while still maintaining focus on important information. The Brain Fitness in Older Adults (B-fit) study is a project funded by the National Institute on Aging that is designed to determine if a brain exercise program can improve healthy older adults? (ages 65-75) ability to filter out unwanted sights and sounds.
Research suggests that some training programs can actually improve memory and cognition, however it is unclear what is happening in the brain to elicit these increases in brain power. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize blood flow and brain activity, the B-fit study will determine how training alters brain function when someone is asked to focus on what they see and ignore what they hear. Initial results suggest that after completing the training program, there is increased activity in areas of the brain that process relevant visual information and decreased activity in areas of the brain that respond to distracting sounds.