Brain Training

A new generation of video games tells you whether you're still young-at-mind.

Grown-ups who aspire to turn back the clock on aging might enjoy -- and be helped by -- a video game. This month Nintendo launches Brain Age, a title aimed at people who don't care for standard shoot-'em-up fare. The brain game challenges you to solve puzzles, such as the number-matrix game Sudoku, quickly, and to read texts, such as the Constitution, aloud. You need the pocket-size (but large-type) Nintendo DS console ($129). That unit understands both written and spoken commands.

Your score is your "brain age," a reading that compares speed and accuracy with the norm at different ages. The top mark is a brain age of 20. Nintendo doesn't claim the game will improve your acuity. But Brain Age does feature a cartoon likeness of Ryuta Kawashima, a Japanese neurologist. The real life Kawashima asks adults to play video games while MRI machines scan their brains. He finds that pulses in older brains race like those in younger brains. He hypothesizes that you can keep your brain youthful by quickly performing mental activities.

More than three million copies of Brain Age have been sold in Japan since 2004, and more than two-thirds of the buyers were older than 25. The U.S. version will cost $20 at Best Buy and other retailers.

-- Sean O'Neill