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Developing a Fitness Center for the Brain

 

Narrator: This is Science Today. Active brains are healthier brains. In fact, keeping our brains in a state of continuous learning as we age improves its plasticity, or the ability to change. Mike Merzenich, a member of the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco is working on developing plasticity-based mental and physical training programs for the brain.

Merzenich: What we do, you can think of it as being a little bit like going to the gym where nothing in the gym is natural. But what you have in a gym are tools that are designed to make progressive increase of your fitness in all the dimensions in which you need to be. All the things you need to work on to be really fit in a holistic way. We tried to create those for your brain and we call it a brain fitness center.

Narrator: The therapeutic software programs Merzenich is working on are in clinical trial and involve normal aging populations, as well as those with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease patients. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.