Brain Fitness Training Promotes Health

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Researchers will unveil a new brain fitness training program that has been shown in numerous published studies to help people maintain health-related quality of life and improve the performance of daily living tasks essential to independence. The research team from Posit Science Corporation, a San Francisco-based neuroscience company, will introduce the new program, named InSight, at the annual International Long Term Care Insurance Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

InSight is comprised of a suite of five exercises designed to enhance the performance of the brain's visual processing system. As people age, there is a decline in the speed, accuracy and strength with which they record visual information. In addition, while the eyes may continue to take in a full scene, with each passing decade the brain is only able to process a smaller and smaller central "spotlight" of visual information -- a focal area that scientists call "useful field of view."

These age-related declines help explain why great athletes need to retire and why many people find they are not quite as sharp as they used to be at activities as diverse as tennis, cards, driving or remembering where they put the remote control.

While scientists expected training of the visual system to improve performance at visual activities, published research now also shows that this training generalizes to everyday tasks and health-related quality of life as well.

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"InSight represents the first time that consumers will have access to this suite of technologies, including UFOV technology which has been shown to have efficacy in more than two dozen published, peer-reviewed studies," said Henry Mahncke, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at Posit Science. "This includes recent publications from the NIH-funded ACTIVE Study, which has been tracking the performance of more than 2800 older adults for more than five years."

"The studies show that five years after training, people are 35% less likely, on average, to experience extensive decline in health-related quality of life than people who did not engage in the training," Dr. Mahncke said. In addition, published studies also show that trained participants do better at everyday activities that lay the foundation for maintaining independent living and autonomy as determined by standard measures of Timed Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. These activities include tasks like taking medications and managing money.

Making sure their policyholders maintain their health-related quality of life and independence is, not surprisingly, a major concern of the long term care insurers gathered in Jacksonville this week.

"Our number one cause of claim is cognitive impairment," said Steve La Pierre, Executive Vice President of Insurance Operations at Penn Treaty America, a national long term care insurer. "We are providing the Posit Science programs to our policy holders in order to enhance their cognitive abilities, general health and independence in order to promote and support what we believe is everyone's inherent desire to live healthy and independent lives. It's a win-win situation."

Health insurers have increasingly focused on wellness and preventive care in order to better manage portfolio risk and costs, but that concept is relatively new to the long term care insurance industry according to Posit Science CEO Jeff Zimman. "Long term care insurers are beginning to realize that they can manage down costs by promoting wellness," Zimman said. "It expands their relationships with customers, decreases the need to raise premium rates and makes everyone -- policy holders, regulators, investors -- a whole lot happier."

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