Brain Fitness and Exercise in Japan

Fun arti­cle in the Wash­ing­ton Post: Aging Japan­ese Keep Their Minds Moving

  • part of a broad range of men­tal acu­ity prod­ucts that are all the rage in Japan: books, toys, food and oth­er things, sold with the pledge that they can reen­er­gize aging brains.”
  • Ana­lysts said the cur­rent brain-train­ing trend began in 2004 and 2005 when video games such as Sega Toys Co.‘s Brain Train­er and Nin­ten­do Co.‘s Brain Age became smash hits. Since its launch, Brain Age for Nin­ten­do’s DS con­sole has sold 6.7 mil­lion copies around the world, includ­ing 3.4 mil­lion in Japan.”

We were for­tu­nate to inter­view a Japan­ese expert on this trend a few months ago. In Brain Train­ing and “Brain-ism” in Japan, we can learn a lot, such as

  • To see the activ­i­ties inside the brain was fresh for peo­ple, but the method­ol­o­gy and log­ic was not reviewed by any sci­en­tif­ic pub­li­ca­tion. It was pub­lished by a com­pa­ny that pro­vides a fran­chised chain of learn­ing class­es. The com­pa­ny main­tained books at book­stores to cre­ate a boom and was very suc­cess­ful. Then they came up with adult ver­sion of train­ing book, and sold more than 2 mil­lion. Adults and senior peo­ple were seri­ous­ly did addi­tion and sub­trac­tion of 1 dig­it num­bers for count­less times believ­ing it will main­tain and even enhance their brainpower.”

We will be read­ing more and more arti­cles like that-which is good news for a nascent field. And we are hap­py about the suc­cess of Nin­ten­do Brain Age, since peo­ple are com­ing to see how pow­er­ful com­put­ers can be to pro­vide good brain exer­cise. Now, we would rec­om­mend any­one con­sid­er­ing such pro­grams to always ask the ques­tions:

  1. What does the spe­cif­ic pro­gram look like: how many hours a week, how many weeks, and to accom­plish what out­comes? Some pro­grams we have seen leave it so open that it is unclear for us how users are sup­posed to get what ben­e­fits. When we go to the gym, and we tell the coach what our objec­tives are, we typ­i­cal­ly get a good struc­ture and pro­gram to follow.
  2. What research has been pub­lished, or has been sub­mit­ted to pub­li­ca­tion, that sup­ports that if a per­son fol­lows that pre­cise pro­gram he or she will like­ly obtain those promised benefit?
  3. How do any ben­e­fits trans­fer to real life and to our cog­ni­tive abilities/ skills? by def­i­n­i­tion, by play­ing a game we get bet­ter at a game. Which is great in itself, because we learn some­thing new, and it builds self-con­fi­dence. Now, how do I know that trans­fers into an expand­ed “men­tal mus­cle” or cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty, that will also help me in domains out­side the game itself?

You can read more details at Brain Fit­ness Pro­grams, “Brain Gyms”…Explained


  1. Flybeers on August 24, 2007 at 4:58

    Hi there,
    final­ly a breath of fresh air here. I was hop­ing some­one here can point me in the right direc­tion of some kind of good qual­i­ty live devel­op­ment, moti­va­tion­al sem­i­nar? The ones I have seen are just way to expen­sive, so maybe you have some alter­na­tive sug­ges­tions. Thanks

  2. Alvaro on August 25, 2007 at 5:52

    Hel­lo Flybeers,

    We are not experts in moti­va­tion­al sem­i­nars, ours are more educational/ work ori­ent­ed. Sor­ry not to be of more help.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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