Harvard Men's Health Watch

Computer-based brain training could help keep your mental tools sharp

But only if the training isn't boring to you and pushes your limits enough to produce real improvement.

People who live the most mentally active lives tend to maintain their memories and other cognitive skills as they age. Seeing an opportunity, brain scientists have joined forces with software developers to market products that promise to put your brain through its paces. These "mind games" use words, images, and sounds to tune up your memory, concentration, and attention.

But mental activity of any kind only helps to sustain cognitive fitness if it meets some key requirements. "It should be something that keeps you engaged and continues to challenge you," says Bonnie Wong, a clinical neuropsychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and instructor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. "But it can't be so challenging that you become discouraged."

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