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NY Times, August 26, 2007 --
WHEN Charline and Dan Truitt of Irvine, Calif., owners of a company that audits mortgage lenders, started misplacing their keys and blanking on names, they made all the usual jokes about senior moments. But it was no laughing matter when Mrs. Truitt, 62, started forgetting client appointments.

“I was honestly wondering if we would have to sell the company,” she said. Instead, she started using Brain Fitness Program, a software product that says it can improve brain power through its regimen of mental calisthenics. After about six weeks, she said, “I could suddenly remember where things were and remember appointments, and didn’t have any problem recalling conversations.”
But on the other hand...
“The scientific evidence for those commercial products is still very weak,” said Timothy A. Salthouse, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. “Manufacturers and companies have jumped into this without doing the research” to prove that their products enhance cognitive function or delay mental decline, he said.

It’s not that you can’t teach an old brain new tricks, Dr. Salthouse said — in fact, you can. Recent research in neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to change in response to information and new activities — shows that brain cells and new pathways continue to develop throughout life. A 2003 study found that people older than 75 who danced, read, or played board games or musical instruments faced a lower risk of dementia.

Unfortunately, translating this research into specific mental workouts to postpone cognitive decline may be far from easy.
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