Bleeding Edge

by Carlo Longino




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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:00am

    If BrainTraining was required

    People like to say the brain is akin to a muscle, and you have to exercise it regularly to keep it strong.

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:44am

      Re: If BrainTraining was required

      I love your sense oh humor man! Which requieres most concentration and mental focus?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ijakings, 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:51am

        Re: Re: If BrainTraining was required

        Spelling, apparently

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Comboman, 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re: If BrainTraining was required

        Which requieres most concentration and mental focus?

        Neither. Meditation is an emotional/spiritual exercise, not an intellectual one.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 15 Sep 2006 @ 2:46pm

          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"

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      LauraAnn, 15 Sep 2006 @ 12:03pm

      Re: If BrainTraining was required

      Makes sense to me. I watch quite a bit of TV-mostly educational programs. My IQ is in the triple digits. You get a lot of useful and useless information. Processing that information and putting it where it belongs is a decidedly good brain exercise!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        RoyalPeasantry, 15 Sep 2006 @ 5:14pm

        Re: Re: If BrainTraining was required

        Triple digits really isn't that impressive.. It doesn't even techincally mean above average. By definition 50% of the world (those that take the test at least) are in the triple digits.

        For example. An IQ of 100 is in the triple digits and yet it means you aver exactly average...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ExNihilo, 15 Sep 2006 @ 12:55pm

      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


      But....
      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Tekmage, 15 Sep 2006 @ 1:55pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jsnbase, 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:52am

    This article is MUCH more entertaining...

    ...if you read it as 'Brain-Spawning Technology.' I would pay almost anything to be able to spawn brains at people.

    Pizza arrives late? BRAIN!
    Neighbor's dog won't shut up? BRAIN!
    No good night kiss? BRAIN!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:54am

    I get very little stimuli watching TV... hehe. Emotional reaction - yeah, get a bit of that. I guess it depends a lot on what you're watching too though. Some educational shows can stimulate the brain a bit.

    Never tried meditation, so can't comment there, but I know the video games I play can keep my brain quite busy, hehe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Richard Adler, 15 Sep 2006 @ 1:37pm

    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 (www.positscience.com) 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, myself, and i, 15 Sep 2006 @ 2:18pm

    just one note on #10, that whole thing about violent video games still isn't proven, and has evidence stating the opposite entirely. just because a violent kid played a violent videogame doesn't mean violent videogames make kids violent

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ryan, 15 Sep 2006 @ 6:09pm

    yeah iqs are usually above 100, mine is 118, and i can bet im younger than any of you here. i watch discovery tho..that probly has something to do with it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2006 @ 6:39pm

      Re: Ryan

      Hopefully one day discovery will do a show on IQs and what they represent. Then you will better understand why your comment was silly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Erik, 17 Sep 2006 @ 1:50am

    "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.

    http://cogmed.com/cogmed/sections/en/6.aspx

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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