Friday, March 30, 2007

Serious Games for Healthy Aging and Job Performance

Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Via: SharpBrains - Highlights of Brain Science

Thanks to new neuroimaging techniques, regarded “as important for neuroscience as telescopes were for astronomy”, neuroscientists are finding that the brain has a number of "core capacities" and "mental muscles" that can be exercised through novelty, variety and practice, and that exercising our brain influences the generation of new neurons and their connections.


Some beliefs that have been debunked include claims that adult brains can not create new neurons, notions that working memory has a maximum limit of 6 or 7 items and assumptions that the brain’s basic processes can not be reorganized by repeated practice.


The "mental muscles" we can train include attention, stress and emotional management, memory, visual/ spatial, auditory processes and language, motor coordination and executive functions like planning and problem-solving.


SharpBrains has recently published a great article -- Baby Boomers, Healthy Aging and Job Performance -- offering 10 considerations on healthy aging and job performance from a neuropsychological point of view, that apply to all occupations.

Among them, computer-based brain exercise programs, which I took the liberty to approach as a Serious Games segment, are great vehicles to help us with our mental stimulation needs, as compliments to other activities in our daily lives. This is why we are reading more about the Brain Fitness movement these days, grounded on the research behind adult neuroplasticity. And, of course, why SharpBrains launched their Brain Fitness Center


SharpBrains Vision for a Brain Fitness Center

In the 90s, research showed that eating well and exercising are crucial to our well-being and healthy aging. We all join gyms to work out our bodies, expand cardiovascular capacity, and develop good muscles. Trainers teach us that novelty and variety are important and that having some structure helps us achieve our physical fitness goals.

Now, the need for brain exercise is becoming evident. SharpBrains believes that Brain Fitness will grow one day to become as widespread as physical fitness, and that Brain Fitness Centers or "brain gyms" will complement today's gyms. SharpBrains aspires to provide useful and fun:
  • Assessments: to allow every person to identify areas to work on, establish a baseline to analyze performance over time, and measure the effectiveness of brain fitness workouts.

  • Exercises: to allow everyone to exercise mental areas as needed, both improving strengths and solving bottlenecks that prevent overall progress, with good brain and mind improvement programs.

  • Coaches: to guide, support and tailor programs for anyone interested in building mental muscles

  • Communities: to provide a welcoming and stimulating environment in which everyone can exercise their brains