Boomers – Exercise Your Brains

And become a better driver.


A recent article in the Dallas Morning News highlights a computer game to improve driving skills. It’s all part of the “brain gym” effort to improve cognitive ability in an aging population.


“Brain gyms” are becoming popular as tech savvy and physically healthy boomers approach 65. “Brain gyms” are computer and video games designed to improve cognitive skills. They are part and parcel of the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” We all know that unused muscles become flabby and weak. Think of your brain as a group of muscles.


The brain has various “muscles”: muscles for memory, muscles for movement, muscles for listening, muscles for problem solving, muscles for emotions, etc. In order to keep these muscles fit, you have to put down the TV remote and use them. Just as with any exercise, the earlier you start, the greater the benefit. 


Computer games designed specifically to maintain or improve driving skills focus on improving visual tracking and cueing, peripheral vision and reaction times. The games are fast paced and record various aspects of the player’s performance. In one game, the player becomes a deep-sea diver who is looking for buried treasure amid schools of fast moving fish. Stay focused on just the center of your visual field and you find very little “treasure”. You have to learn to not only to scan your environment quickly with your eyes, but to also widen the scope of what you see and react quickly before the “treasure” disappears.


The games are fun and appealing because the gratification is both quick and delayed. You know how you have performed on each session and you can work towards doing better in the future.


So, keep your brain as well as your body moving. You don’t want to lose it!


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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