Brain Training Program Improves Quality Of Life
Posit Science Corporation today announced the release of InSight, a computer-based brain fitness training program that speeds up and sharpens the brain's ability to process visual information. Researchers say the program improves not just visual processing abilities, but also increases driving safety, speeds up performance at many everyday activities, and helps people maintain health-related quality of life.
The program consists of five different exercises wrapped in a game-like format. The scientists who built InSight say that the exercises are fun to do, but that serious science is embedded throughout each exercise. "We listened to our customers as well as our scientists in building InSight," said Jeff Zimman, Posit Science CEO. "Once we cracked the code on making the science work, our developers surrounded it with a fun, engaging experience."
The speed, accuracy and strength of the brain's visual processing begin to degrade, for almost everyone, in their thirties, and there is further decline with each passing decade. In addition, the "useful field of view" -- the focal area from which individuals can extract information while looking straight ahead -- grows smaller as people age. This explains why activities that depend on processing information at the visual periphery, such as driving, become more challenging with age. These deficits result in increased difficulty in managing everyday tasks that rely heavily on visual processing, such as driving, playing cards, hand-eye coordination in sports, tracking or finding people or objects and remembering where we put things.
Multiple published studies show that visual processing and performance at everyday tasks can be improved with UFOV cognitive training that increases and strengthens visual speed and accuracy and expands useful field of view. InSight is the first product made available to consumers that incorporates this patented technology, known as UFOV, to enhance performance.
Posit Science acquired the UFOV technology last year and has incorporated it into four of the five InSight exercises. The fifth exercise focuses on visual processing speed.
Studies published in the Journal of American Medical Association, in the Journal of Gerontology, Human Factors and in Aging and Mental Health describe many of the benefits from the technology now commercialized in InSight. These include increased useful field of view by more than 200%, reduced hazardous driving maneuvers by more than 50%, and significant improvements in stopping time to unexpected traffic situations.
One early user of the InSight program said her experience bears out the studies. "Lately, my peripheral vision was not what it should be. It was noticeable, especially when I was driving, so I was excited to try InSight," said Linda Stack, age 63. After just a few weeks of doing the InSight exercises, she noticed a change. "It has given me confidence and makes me feel that I can drive safely."
The training also has been shown to make a sustained difference in general measures of health-related quality of life and ability to live independently. A study published in the Journal of Gerontology tracked users of the Posit Science training technology for five years after training and showed they were 35 percent less likely to experience extensive decline in health-related quality of life than the control group. Other published studies have shown that people who have used the training technology improved their performance at timed instrumental activities of daily living -- the kind of everyday tasks that researchers measure to gauge the ability of people to continue to live independently.
"Surveys show that keeping your driver's license is a top priority as we age," said Karlene Ball, Ph.D., a psychologist who studies the sensory and cognitive functions that are relevant to older adults maintaining everyday abilities, including driving skills. Dr. Ball directs the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Research on Applied Gerontology. "That's because all the things that help us maintain our autonomy and independence are critical to healthy aging. Getting InSight out of the lab and into the hands of consumers will improve quality of life and change how we age."
InSight is available to the public for home use from Posit Science, from leading insurers and from clinicians and other authorized providers. A special version for classroom use is being developed for retirement communities, senior centers and adult education facilities. InSight is designed to complement Posit Science's first product, the Brain Fitness Program, which is scientifically proven to speed up and sharpen auditory processing, resulting in improved memory.