Last year was all about the Brain Age. That title took Japan by storm and drove DS sales in the region. Consumers wanted to exercise their brains. Math problems and saying the word "blue" seemed like the answer. Or is it? An opinion piece over in The New York Times points out that those types of games are "inspired by science" and not actually proven by it. Brain Age and the like train users to be go at very specific tasks. Instead, brain power is actually improved by exercise. From the article:
In humans, exercise improves what scientists call "executive function," the set of abilities that allows you to select behaviour that's appropriate to the situation, inhibit inappropriate behaviour and focus on the job at hand in spite of distractions. Executive function includes basic functions like processing speed, response speed and working memory, the type used to remember a house number while walking from the car to a party.
And for seniors, exercise also helps reduce things like dementia and Alzheimer's disease. As NeoGAF poster Target points out: This is where Wii Fit comes in. Exercise on the Brain [NY Times via NeoGAF]