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Brain Training used to defeat dementia

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According to a BBC report, Nintendo's hugely popular Brain Training titles are invading Japanese classrooms in an effort to help the older population get their minds in motion and running swiftly from encroaching dementia. How effective Dr. Kawashima's unnervingly polite floating head is at preventing or combating the condition (of which hallucination is a symptom) still hasn't been conclusively established, but for some people, keeping their minds active is enough.

After demonstrating how to turn on the Nintendo DS and how to insert a game cartridge, the teacher has his elderly students engage in several different activities, not all of which are limited to Brain Training's repertoire of challenges. A golf game is used to train hand-eye coordination which, thanks to the DS' intuitive control scheme, seems to be quite easy to grasp. "It's not difficult to learn how to play them," says Atsuo Umetsu, one of the teachers. "After all I learnt, so everyone can do it."  Though one of the students admits that she joined the class in order to better compete with her gamer sons, most are joining in the hopes of doing everything they can to avoid mental problems in a society where a large percentage of the population is older.

Dr. Takao Suzuki, an expert when it comes to elderly affairs, points out that "nobody wants to get dementia so even if there is a very small possibility that it might work, most elderly people will want to do something in order to prevent dementia." And it's not just Nintendo that's reaching out to an older generation -- Namco has set up a day-care center allowing older people to bash drums and clobber cartoon crocodiles to their heart's content. Is this the key to defeating dementia? We don't know, but it sure sounds like fun, doesn't it?

[Thanks Jon!]

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