July 17, 2009

Emporium’s games train older brains

Older Cleveland residents are sharpening their recall via computer games at The Brain Emporium run by Case Western Reserve University, researchers said.

The emporium is a computerized brain fitness center -- a mind gymnasium where elders can increase their mental strength and agility, Case psychologist T.J. McCallum said.

The center, which opened this spring after three years of planning, tailors a regimen of cutting-edge brain-training programs to each person's needs, McCallum said.

The programs stimulate areas of cognition, including memory, visual-spatial abilities, mental flexibility, processing speed, language and planning. Physical movement to increase coordination and agility is encouraged through virtual tennis, bowling or darts on a Nintendo Wii.

The programs haven't proved able to slow diseases such as Alzheimer's, but they do engage elders and sharpen their minds, McCallum said.

If you don't use your body, it atrophies and the same is true for the brain, he said.