As part of our ongoing market research we’d like to ask past and current users of Posit Science products to share their experience with us via this 3‑question anonymous survey. [Read more…] about Posit Science: Brain Training Product Review Survey
A study just published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society has been much publicized recently (see for instance, this L.A. Times article). The study showed that a computer-based brain training program succeeded in reducing at-fault car crashes for older drivers. The effects of the training lasted over 6 years.
This result made the news as one of the rare transfers of brain training benefits to everyday life. Why was this training successful and not others? Probably because brain training needs to be specific and not general. If you practice playing baseball you do not expect to get better at playing basketball, right? The same is true of brain functions: If you train your language skills, do not expect to get better at memorizing numbers. [Read more…] about Why Brain Training Helps Older Drivers
Nice weekend reading material — recent news reiforcing emerging trends on physical, cognitive and emotional fitness, but with new twists.
“Researchers from Sweden and USC examined data on 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 who also enlisted for the country’s mandatory military service. They looked at the participants’ global intelligence scores as well as logical, visuospatial, verbal and technical scores. The greater the cardiovascular fitness, the higher the cognitive scores at age 18. The association between muscle strength and global intelligence, in contrast, was weak.”
“UPMC Health Plan announced today that it has signed an agreement to offer award-winning brain fitness software from Posit Science®, at no cost, to all UPMC for Life Medicare Advantage members. This brain training program is a new part of the UPMC Health Plan wellness services, which focus on both mind and body fitness.
The brain fitness software, known as the Insight™ Brain Fitness Program, is a suite of five game-like computer exercises that make brain training challenging and effective. The program engages the brain’s natural plasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire itself) to improve basic brain function.”
“When we’re younger we’re learning quite intensively,” she said. “By middle age, we’re not learning intensively anymore and just using skills we’ve already mastered. That’s why it’s important to stretch your brain.”
Brain fitness games also have the potential to improve one’s emotional health, said Mark Baldwin, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal.
Baldwin has developed a number of computer games based on keeping a brain active physiologically, to improve it psychologically.
“It’s about practising or using games to train beneficial habits of thought, ” he said.
Round-up of recent news with a variety of angles, from the effects of gaming to cognitive training for driving skills and brain fitness classes.
Seniors use brain training software to sharpen their minds (Dallas Morning News)
- “Allstate Insurance has invited some policyholders and other older drivers to try InSight so researchers can evaluate whether the software reduces accidents.”
- “Depending on the results, the auto insurer says it may expand the pilot project and offer premium discounts to drivers who take the brain training.”
- “Today, only one in seven licensed drivers is 65 or older. But by 2030, when the last of the boomers turn 65, the proportion will be one in four. ”
Brain games (Palo Alto Weekly)
- “There is research that justifies the belief that games can aid the brain’s health, according to Dr. Walter Bortz II, a Stanford University School of Medicine associate professor and expert on longevity and robust aging. Studies show that stimulating the brain by learning new tasks increases blood factors in the brain that act like steroids, making it possible for the brain to grow even in old age
- “Called “brain plasticity,” such growth is the foundation of brain-fitness software research.”
Brain Fitness Classes Keep Seniors Mentally And Socially Active (Washington Post)
- “More options for exercising the brain are on the way. Last year, the Ontario government pledged about $8 million to develop a brain fitness center in Toronto. In San Francisco, Jan Zivic, a former executive search consultant, opened a center, vibrantBrains, that offers memory improvement classes and workshops. Zivic was inspired by help she got from brain fitness games she played after being injured in an automobile accident.”
The 15 Clearest Benefits of Gaming (Edge Magazine)
-“But Fernandez warns that the gamer generation isn’t automatically guaranteed to have better cognitive health than their grandparents. Cognitive fitness (having the mental abilities required to thrive in cognitively more complex environments) seems to depend on four major pillars: nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and mental exercise. All these factors have physical effects on our brains (for example, physical exercise contributes to the creation of new neurons, while stress and anxiety prevents and/or reduces the creation of new neurons). The bad news is that we have growing obesity rates and anxiety among young people. So, games are great for mental exercise, but we shouldn’t forget the other ingredients for cognitive fitness.
- “Fernandez muses, Indeed fun can be seen as a goal in itself . The problem is that we confuse gaming as a vehicle with gaming as content. Gaming as vehicle is arguably great it allows for interactivity, engagement. Gaming as content, well, it depends. It is not the same to play a bloody shooter game as it is to Tetris or Rise of Nations, so the field should do a better job at explaining to mainstream society the diversity of games and dispel some myths.
Insurance company Allstate and brain fitness software developer Posit Science just announced (see press release Protecting Pennsylvania Drivers, One Brain at a Time) a very intelligent initiative:
Video exercises aid driving skills (Chicago Tribune)
-“Allstate, which called the Posit program “potentially the next big breakthrough in automobile safety,” said it expects its software exercises to reduce risky driving maneuvers by up to 40 percent and improve stopping distance by an average of 22 feet when traveling at 55 miles per hour.”
-“We’ll look to see whether over the next six to nine months there will be a reduction in” the number of accidents between the group participating in the video exercises and those sitting out, said Tom Warden, assistant vice president of Allstate’s research and planning center.
I am fortunate to interview Tom Warden, Assistant Vice President and Leader of Allstate’s Research and Planning Center, based in Menlo Park, California.
Alvaro Fernandez: Tom, thank you for your time. Can you please explain the context behind this new initiative that you just announced?
Tom Warden: Our research center is constantly looking for new ideas to improve the driving behavior of drivers of all ages. Recently we have paid extra emphasis on ways to improve the safety of older drivers.
Let me provide some background here. Allstate, as a company, has always been one of the pioneers in helping to introduce new safety measures. For example, we were among the pioneers in the 60s to advocate for mandatory use of seating belts, given research studies on the benefits for drivers and passengers alike. More recently, we helped lobby for wider adoption of airbags, an effective but expensive way of protection that only became mainstream when manufacturers were required to include them.
Let’s talk now about your agreement with Posit Science. What will happen over the next months?
The first thing we are doing is to conduct a research study to analyze the real-life impact of Posit Science InSight, a computer-based cognitive training program, on accident rates. We know that as drivers get older [Read more…] about Allstate: Can we improve Driver Safety using Posit Science InSight?
Posit Science Corporation announced today, at the annual International Long Term Care Insurance Conference,Ã‚Â theÃ‚Â launch of a new programÃ‚Â calledÃ‚Â Ã‚Â InSight™ for visual processing training.
We have not yet had the chance to analyze the program, but several pertinent open questions posed by Alvaro last month to Posit Science representatives (see Posit Science Brain Fitness Program 2.0: Open Questions)Ã‚Â haven’t yet been addressed. Specifically: