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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

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2 Responses

  1. Flybeers says:

    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
    Fly­beers

  2. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Fly­beers,

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

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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