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Online “Brain Games” Claim To Improve Memory

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — None of our brains spark on all cylinders all the time.

Every time we recall a memory or have a new thought, we create a new connection in our brain. As we age, accessing that information doesn’t get easier.

We know that physical exercise is good for us, but what about stretching our mental muscles?

Is it possible to boost brain health, be smarter and also remember where you put those car keys?

Well, let the games begin!

In the brain games sweepstakes, Lumosity and Nintendo DS are the heavy hitters.

But it’s Lumosity, which is based in San Francisco, Calif., that’s turning fans into true believers, touting that it’s software was developed with the help of neuroscientists from Harvard, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley.

The question is, do Lumosity’s games really work?

Susan Coe, a 48-year-old business owner from Carrick, has been testing her wits against Lumosity for more than a year.

“I thought it might be fun, and I would just try it out,” said Coe. “It really challenges all the parts of your brain.”

Lumosity’s games are said to target brain areas like: memory, attention, problem solving, mental flexibility and speed. Lumosity also creates a profile for you providing feedback on your progress.

“There are no scientific studies showing that this type of games improve cognition.” That opinion comes from Dr. Oscar Lopez, a professor of Neurology at UPMC Montefiore Hospital.

But there are studies showing that games like Lumosity have great potential in helping head trauma and stroke patients recover.

“For a certain group of individuals this could be critical, and it could be a key to a process of rehabilitation,” said Dr. Lopez.

There is also some science that proves that we can change how our brains function.

A new British study finds that reading classical prose and poetry like Shakespeare are “rocket boosters,” lighting up the brain’s electrical activity and improving attention and self-reflection.

But back to the brain games. A Lumosity membership costs about $15 a month or $80 a year. They also offer a free trial.

Coe is such a fan she’s enrolled friends and family in Lumosity, and doesn’t seem to care whether there’s scientific evidence to back it up.

“I think there are a lot of things in life that there may not be any evidence to support it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good and it doesn’t work,” she said.

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