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Psychologist Jennifer Van Wey explains how the brain can benefit from a progressive training regimen. Stephen Schlange photo boomers

A Gym for Your Brain Log in and start training BY DEANNA PAN

A

re you easily distracted? Do you have trouble putting names to faces? Are you prone to losing your keys, cellphone, glasses or wallet, or walking into a room in your house and forgetting why you were there in the first place? Once we reach our 40s, our brains start to shrink — literally. It’s microscopic atrophy, a normal part of aging. But if you’re worried about staying sharp, a little regular exercise can keep your mind agile, healthy

and strong. A growing body of evidence suggests that engaging in frequent mentally stimulating activity can improve “executive functions,” like working memory, processing speed, mental flexibility, and verbal fluency, and even reduce one’s risk of dementia. “Your brain is like a muscle,” says Jennifer Van Wey, a psychologist with the Spokane-based Northwest Neurobehaviorial Institute. “You want to work it out.”

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rain training games have become a multimillion-dollar business. Lumosity, one of the most popular online brain training programs, has grown dramatically since it was launched in 2005 and now boasts 40 million subscribers worldwide. A Stanford University study published in May found that breast cancer survivors who had undergone chemotherapy showed “significant improvements” ...continued on page 34

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Inhealth October 2013  
Inhealth October 2013