Booster Shots

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Build those mental muscles before you shop

May 7, 2009 | 11:32 am

Brain If you're looking to boost your brain power and shopping for a product that promises to help you do that, start by thinking twice. Many of the products don't have much of a track record.

The Stanford Center on Longevity is offering some guidance, backed up by more than two dozen brain scientists, on these so-called memory aids.

The statement begins: "There is no greater concern among aging people than the prospect of diminished capacity and the loss of independence."

It goes on to acknowledge the desperation people feel to keep their mental fitness, and explains just what is possible -- and what isn't. That is, supplements haven't been proven to work; software-based programs show little real-world effect; and there's no such thing as a cure or prevention for Alzheimer's (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise).  

But learning in general, community involvement and exercise ... those are all good.

Here's staff writer Melissa Healy's look at mental workouts:  Sort of like a StairMaster -- but for the brain  

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: UCLA School of Medicine