So for various reasons, I’ve been concerned about potentially declining memory and mental faculties. To that end, I got a subscription to Lumosity for my birthday in June. Lumosity is a website that has computer games that are designed to increase memory and mental acuity. You ‘train’ everyday on five different exercises. It calculates a ‘Brain Performance Index’ (BPI) made up of five components: Memory, Attention, Speed, Flexibility, and Problem Solving. (There’s a great piece in the July 29th New Yorker by Patricia Marx about all the different kinds of ‘brain training’ available. Lumosity is just a drop in the bucket apparently. )
Anyroad, here are my current BPI indicators (this is so personal – I feel a bit like Anthony Weiner):
You’ll note that ‘Problem Solving’ is rather low. If you delve further, you’ll find that Lumosity shows you how you compare with others in your age group and offers some words of encouragement, e.g. “You’re in a good place – now challenge yourself to get even better.” Based upon my actual performance on the problem-solving games, I think Lumosity is dying to show this instead: “OMG!!! Were you hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer?!?” Sometimes I wonder.
Most of these Lumosity games I simply do not get. Growing up in rural England in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I missed out on Pac-Man and Asteroids, so video games are anathema to me. And as a child, the extent of my other game playing was Go Fish! and Candyland – not much strategery there. In school, we played Spanish and French BINGO! Spanish was fine, but French is awkward. The 70s, 80s, and 90s are too much like math; 70 is 60 +10; 80 and 90 are 4 twenties (99 is 4 twenties and 19 – wow). We also played a variant of Scrabble in German. It was in teams and the object was to get the longest word. Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit) was the Holy Grail. So in general, I’m not much of a game player.
The worst problem-solving games though are the math ones. Uhg. These little ‘rain drops’ are falling down the screen with math problems in them – 7+2; 5X3; 8-3; etc. You’re supposed to solve the problem before the rain drop hits the ground. While I vividly remember the pain of learning my times tables in 3rd Grade, apparently everything above the 5s was summarily dumped from my brain a decade later, likely to make room for the intricacies of the fief structure of the Tokugawa Shogunate for my ‘Japanese Politics’ class. I should have retained my times tables; there’s rarely ever a need in everyday life to speak on the pros and cons of the Tozama daimyo. But I digress… when the little rain drop math problems involve multiplication or division with 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, I completely panic and my score plummets, thus my poor problem-solving score.
Notwithstanding the fact that my problem-solving skills place me in the nit-wit category, my memory and flexibility are “forces to be reckoned with” according to Lumosity, so I’m not panicking yet. And as long as I remember to put pants on when I go to work, I call it a good day.