Brain Boot Camp Helps Keep Memory In Shape

Studies have boasted long about the benefits of physical fitness, but what about a book camp for your brain?

Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman takes a closer look at the growing trend of workouts to stretch your mind at gyms for the brain.

At this San Francisco gym, members pay $60 a month to bulk up their brains.

"Two things that you need for cognitive exercise is that it stretches you and that you, it challenges you and that you do it consistently," said Jan Zivic, co-owner of "Vibrant Brains."

It's the brain child of Zivic and Lisa Schoonerman.

"Similar to if you are working with a personal trainer, you might say 'I really want to work on my core,'" said Schoonerman, co-owner of "Vibrant Brains." "We can steer them in the right direction for those products that might be best suited to their goals."

"Did you ever have anybody laugh at you? A gym for brains?" Kaufmann asked.

"No one laughed so much," Zivic said. "They just said people aren't going to do that."

But they are.

"I was ordered to come here by my wife," admitted 79-year-old Clement Deamicis. "Everybody talks about forgetting their car keys. I would forget where the car was."

Gyms like this are popping up across the country as science supports the benefits of brain exercise.

"If we have people with just mild memory complaints, we've shown that we can improve your memory ability and that improvement can be sustained over years," said neuropsychiatrist Dr. Gary Small.

Small says regular techno-workouts can trigger increased neuron-activity. Linda Bucklin, 64, sees a physical benefit to the mental gymnastics.

"I play competitive tennis, since I've been doing one of these programs, I can see the ball much more clearly and actually hold my own with tennis players about 20 years younger than I," Bucklin said.

For 28-year-old Tara Siebelist the gym is a God-send.

"I just happened to walk by it and I saw 'Vibrant Brains' and at that point in time my brain was feeling anything but vibrant," Siebelist said.

Siebelist was recovering from a stroke that impaired her ability to concentrate. She signed up for the brain fitness program.

"I started to read and the length of time that I could read and the amount that I was retaining from what I was reading was very different," Siebelist explained.

Today, she's in graduate school.

"It absolutely changed the way that I think," Siebelist said.

While no large scale of data exists, Dr. Small says he's observed brain injured patients benefitting from these approaches. And as with any exercise the key is training, not straining.

"You don't have to be a Mensa member to get in here and try one of these?" Kaufmann asked.

"You don't, but you'd be closer to becoming a Mensa member if you did," Zivic said.
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