Computer-assisted brain fitness seems to be one of the in-vogue topics when it comes to longevity. There is a genre of “brain fitness software” that is designed to exercise and maintain the memory and mental agility of older folks. An example is Nintendo’s Brain Age Game. I don’t think use of such software is necessary and strongly suspect that using computers day-to-day for multi-faceted intellectual work can achieve the same objectives. Some of the toughest puzzles I face personally involve diagnosing and fixing mysterious hardware and software bugs that keep cropping up in the 9 computers I maintain. This is possibly a counterpart for me of a rat having to find its way through a complex maze to get the cheese.
There is evidence that searching on Google provides great brain exercise. A recent news item reports on a study that looks at brain activity of people who search on the web using Google. The study was done at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and used MRI techniques to monitor brain activity. The benefits of computer searching go beyond what can be achieved by reading a book. “The bottom line is, when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated that you’d expect, the visual cortex, and areas that control language and reading,” he said. “When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning. But it was only for the people who had previous experience with the Internet.” — “Members of the technologically advanced group had more than twice the neural activation than their less experienced counterparts while searching online.” Apparently, like for other forms of exercise, systematic mental exercise leads to the most benefits.
From a personal viewpoint this is great news. I average well over 100 on-line searches a day using Google and in specialized science databases as part of my research on Anti-Aging Firewalls. And I do this day after day. Try and get your arms around longevity research and I can personally guarantee you will get ample mental exercise.