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November 30, 2021

Is working out at the 'brain gym' really worthwhile?

After forgetting his PIN number twice in the same week one of my friends has decided his brain is just a bit out of shape.

His solution? Spending several hours on Lumosity, a brain-training program that includes close to 40 games and exercises aimed at sharpening memory skills, improving concentration and thinking faster.

And he's not alone, it seems. Some 14 million people around the world either subscribe to the company's website or have downloaded one of its iPhone apps.

Just as you can tone up your body by lifting weights, the types of games that Lumosity and its competitors like MindSparke and Posit offer are supposed to make your brain stronger and help it work more efficiently. That’s key for all those people who show signs of aging or memory loss.

And, while some brain experts think there isn't much chance that any brain game or memory technique will prevent people from developing Alzheimer's or dementia, the exercises are fun. 

The folks behind the operation think learning becomes more appealing when a game's involved. That's why its supporting software uses so-called gamification tactics to keep users engaged.

But it's more than a game, the developers claim. Joe Hardy, director of research at Lumosity, says the company’s data shows that the one year at age 14 is when a human achieves the most growth in performance of the brain.

That has interesting implications for how instruction can be improved, he believes. Unfortunately, that's about 40 years too late for my buddy.

Have you spent any time at a brain gym? How are things working out?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...