My husband and I enjoy watching a popular raunchy cartoon about a certain Rhode Island family. We’ve seen every episode. Yet, without fail, my husband will sit down and say, “I’ve never seen this one!” He’s 5 years older than me, so I like to give him a hard time about his early senility. At 32, he’s in no danger of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. But scientists are learning that subtler decline starts much, much earlier. In fact, at 27, I’m just starting to lose brain speed, reasoning, and visual puzzle-solving ability. Posit Science is one of several companies that sells brain training software to stall the slow slide!
Posit Science was started by Dr. Michael Merzenich, a professor emeritus in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. His pioneering work in primates was instrumental in demonstrating the different areas of the brain surface map to specific areas in the body (somatosensory maps). In the course of his work, Dr. Merzenich and others began to realize that the brain is “plastic.” That is, it can change over time with training. This is evident in babies, who start with a blank slate and learn to walk and talk within the space of a few years, as well as stroke patients, who must relearn certain tasks after cerebrovascular accidents. The good news is that everyone can take advantage of this amazing brain capability. You can hear Dr. Merzenich talking about how the brain can rewire itself in his TED talk from February 2004.
Who does Posit Science Brain Fitness help?
On average, memory stays intact until age 37, and vocabulary and accumulated knowledge continue to grow until the age of 60. The training modalities target different aspects of brain fitness for every age.
Scientists recommend the best way to stave of decline is to start early. Therefore, Posit Science Brain Fitness can help anyone who wants to improve their mental functions, regardless of age or other factors.
Special Posit Science programs have been designed to help traumatic brain injury victims strengthen their cognitive function.
What does Posit Science Brain Fitness do?
The three dozen or so scientists at Posit Science are developing programs for five key mental modalities than tend to decline with age. The difference between their programs and others, is that the stimuli are provided in a specific order with a certain timing, both of which are designed to drive plastic change. They study the most efficient ways to brain train by developing games that can be applied to real life.
A clinical trial called the IMPACT study determined that people who regularly used the Brain Fitness Program experienced a 131% increase in auditory processing speed. Three out of four people said they had improvements in their daily lives, including better memory, hearing conversations more clearly, and feeling more confident.
Posit Science Games
Some of the reviews for Posit Science games found online are less than dazzling. Many users feel they are not as interesting as similar programs. However, they are backed by real science, and they offer some novel options.
For instance, some of the games are listening exercises that that are supposed to improve auditory memory. It may not be terribly exciting to listen to slowed down speech sounds, but by doing so you actually rebuild the brain’s basic ability to process sound. It helps older adults differentiate between background noise and signal.
Others are visual processing exercises that involve searching for various objects on the computer screen.
Some exercises engage the frontal lobes, which are important for “executive” functions like working towards goals and making decisions.
There are even games for fine and gross motor control, both of which decline with age.
The results of studies on Posit Science games have been published in highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed journals, like the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. After training on the auditory memory program for an hour a day for 8-10 weeks, 70-year-olds performed like 40-60-year olds! Neuroscientist Peter Snyder of Brown University reviewed 20 scientific studies for Scientific American and determined that the Posit software really helped brain function.
The Posit Science Brain Training Fitness Programs are offered in different bundled packages. These include: Auditory, Visual, Auditory & Visual (bundled together), and Driving.
Posit Science Reviews
Gina Sileo on Amazon.com: “I have used the Brain Fitness Program for over three years and continue to enjoy my brain workout . I started using this amazing product while working at a Retirement Community in Northern Ca. I initially started the program because I was going to be coaching seniors going through the program. To my surprise there were sounds I could not hear . I am 48 years old and did not expect that at all. I started reading about the science behind this program and the validated proven results it has and did not want to stop. This program is extremely engaging and you do your daily brain exercises fully knowing that you are choosing to help yourself. The program is designed to work with each individual person. The results I saw with the seniors were awesome. Every resident who started the program wanted to finish and did.”
Specialist Orlando Gonzalez, who is recovering from a combat sustained-injury, was quoted in a story in the New York Times as saying he “could barely remember things at all” but has improved by using the program.
S. Mark, a cancer survivor from San Francisco, had also gave a glowing review on Amazon.com: “I started using the Brain Fitness Program (BFP) at age 35 in an effort to combat chemobrain and I’m still impressed by it’s effectiveness. Within just a couple of weeks of starting the program I noticed that I was better able to recall words in conversation, follow a train of thought, and remember appointments. I also found that it lengthened my attention span, which had been reduced to that of a two year old! I was so impressed by the program that I got a copy for my parents, age 67, and have recommended it to many other young cancer survivors.”
Neutral or negative
The Wall Street Journal tested different types of brain exercise software and deemed Posit’s programs “basic” and “boring” but backed by real science.
MelNel88 wrote the following on Amazon.com: “I used the Brain Fitness Program (“BFP”), which focuses improving auditory abilities and also the Insight Program, which targets visual abilities. The BFP was boring but seemed well-focused on the skills it claimed to help. Insight was much more sophisticated and fun and pretty. But neither one seemed to help me one iota. So I asked for my money back, and they were true to their money-back guarantee and did give me a full refund, so at least they’re honest in that regard.”
Richard Palmer complained of technical issues on facebook: When will Posit Science Products again work on the Macintosh. None of my products which I purchased work. To ask Macintosh users to not upgrade just for Posit Science is not reasonable.
What does Posit Science Cost?
The programs aren’t cheap. At the time this reviews was written, they were being offered at 50% off ($197.50 instead of $395 for the individual package, $345 instead of $690 for the auditory and visual bundle). They do come with a 90-day guarantee, and user reviews suggest that the company does stand by their full refund policy. Be sure to save the packing slip or confirmation e-mail because you need the original order number and Product License Code to process the refund request.
Should I Try Posit?
The Posit website has demos of some of the games and training programs available on their website. They include memory, word and mind games, and brain teasers like optical illusions. There are also brain games specially designed for kids. They also have a Brain Fitness Questionnaire to determine which program is best for your specific needs.