Aging Baby Boomers Spawn Brain-Training Technology

from the steel-trap dept

Nintendo’s efforts to widen the audience for its products beyond the relatively narrow demographic tradtionally associated with video games has been a boon to the company. This is embodied most in the success of its Nintendo DS and a line of so-called “brain games” for it, which are aimed at an older crowd looking to use video games to keep their minds sharp. But apart from the games, there are other products looking to capitalize on the growing market of aging people looking to retain their mental capacities. There’s no scientific proof that using tools like video games or any other mental training regime works, but the anecdotal evidence is fairly compelling. In any case, it’s interesting to see these types of uses of technology emerge as baby boomers age. Quite often, stories about baby boomers hitting retirement age focus on what it means for the cost of health care, or some other social issue, but more and more companies are realizing that the large group of aging people offers quite a business opportunity as well — even if it’s with something few people would expect them to adopt, like video games.

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Comments on “Aging Baby Boomers Spawn Brain-Training Technology”

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David says:

Re: Re: Re: If BrainTraining was required

I’ve found it’s some of everything. I find it’ll help clear my mind and think better about a problem if I just take some time, and clear my mind of all distractions except the problem and then start stepping through it.

But maybe that’s not what most people initially think of when they hear “meditation”

ExNihilo says:

Re: If BrainTraining was required

If that’s true, then wouldnt those that meditate be more stupid than those that watch TV? There is a lot of stimulus interpretation going on when watching TV

1) Its only an analogy

2) I think this particular equation fails because people who mediate are usualy self-imporvment seeking types anyways.

Like the “children who goto preschool do better in life” statement. They only do better becuase their parents care enough to send them to pre-school and continue to play a role in their lives, not just because they learned to tie their shoes 6 months before others.

Tekmage says:

Re: Re: If BrainTraining was required

It’s just another marketing gimmick, preying on the elderlies’ fears that their minds are wasting away…

However, there is a certain truth that games can help influence “brain development”.

Eg. Many elderly people claim that playing games such as chess, poker, mahjong (chinese gambling game) etc… keeps their minds active, and it does work to a certain extent.

Video games are helping children suffering from autism and attention deficit disorders.

Violent video games have long been highlighted as causing children to become socially disruptive. One recent case would be the Montreal school massacre, the gunman was mentioned to have played a violent video game.

Meditation would be a good way to “flex your brain muscle”, provided you’re thinking about something constructive, like problem-solving or creative imagination.

TV is also a valid brain stimulus, however, it is important to assess the information received from television for validity. Admittedly, TV would provide more stimulus than meditation, since it’s a continuous stream of information.

Richard Adler says:

Brain Training

Nintendo’s game is lightweight, but there is a more serious software program on the market that is designed to promote brain fitness. It is from an SF-based start-up called Posit Science ( founded by a researcher from UCSF Medical Center. The software requires one hour a day for 40 days – a significant commitment of time. The company has supported a number of evaluations of the effectiveness of its program & claims some pretty impressive result.
I am currently beta-testing their first product. It’s too soon to tell if it’s really working.

Erik says:

“There’s no scientific proof that using tools like video games or any other mental training regime works, but the anecdotal evidence is fairly compelling”

Is that so?…….Nope, don’t think so. Check out COGMED’s software. It was originally targeted for ADHD kids to improve their working memory, a most significant factor in ordinary school tasks, as well as in iq test as Raven’s APM for instance. It was discovered when evaluating the software on ordinary people that it HAS a significant effect on them aswell.

Alvaro (user link) says:

Re: Programs with clinical evidence

Erik, good point. Now, I think the author of the article is talking about most games like Nintendo’s, not programs like Cogmed’s that are being sold as serious interventions.

You may be interested in a couple of interviews, now that Cogmed is available in a number of US clinics:

– Interview with Dr. Torkel Klingberg, scientist behind Cogmed Working Memory Training

– Interview with Dr. David Rabiner, leading ADD/ ADHD researcher


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