Computer Program Helps In The Fight Against Memory Loss

Tuesday, March 20th 2007, 4:39 pm
By: News On 6

Researchers say one of the keys to a healthy brain can be found on each side of your head. We're talking about your hearing. The researchers say they've found a definite link to how well we hear and how well our brains process information and the News On 6’s Steve Berg reports they have a computer program to help seniors regain some of that lost ability.

At the Burgundy Place Retirement Community in south Tulsa, Reba Moss is using the Brain Fitness Program designed by a private company called Posit Science. It was developed with help from dozens of leading universities, and Moss says it can be pretty challenging.

"I'm a rather impatient person, and I learned to settle myself down and if you don't do it right the first time, try, try again," said Moss.

It has a number of different memory exercises, but the key part of the memory-building process involves a type of hearing test.

"One of the ways it does it is through the program called high or low," said Brain Fitness Director Sonya Pratt.

Many sounds are similar and easily confused, especially as we get older, like "dale" and "gale". Pratt says it uses a series of rising and falling tones to give seniors practice in distinguishing between them.

"They're able to do it with no problem at the end of the eight weeks, whereas on the first day, it was incredibly challenging,” Pratt said.

Scientists say that as our hearing begins to fail with age, it can compound any memory problems we also have.

"Those two things are very closely linked," said Pratt. "If your hearing is not as good, then therefore the information that's coming into your brain can come in a little jumbled, and when you're trying to recall the information, you're having to get over two things there."

They say words not heard clearly don't imprint on our memory as deeply.

"It's kind of like garbage in, garbage out," said Pratt.

But the Posit Science Company says that after the 8-week program, seniors, on average, improved their auditory processing speed to that of the average 30-year-old.

A little pat on the back doesn't hurt either. The center passed out awards today for people who completed the program.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would do it over again in a minute," said Moss.

The Posit Science Company has also studied visual processing speed with seniors and found that with training exercises, they can regain some of their lost ability with that too. Some of these folks are using a computer for the first time. They say that's a good way to stimulate the brain.