The Brain Emporium offers Cleveland elders an opportunity to refute the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Imagine a gym focused on increasing mental strength and flexibility instead of physical fitness. Three years ago, Dr. TJ McCallum, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, envisioned such a place—where local elders would have the opportunity to exercise their brains like they exercise their bodies. This summer his vision has come to fruition with the opening of The Brain Emporium, Northeast Ohio’s first computerized brain fitness center. Located in the Fairhill Partners complex, the facility gives older adults the opportunity to work with cutting-edge brain-training programs at little to no cost.
Judson resident Josephine Rich has found her participation in The Brain Emporium both enjoyable and helpful: “This is great because I feel that I am benefiting from all of this fun,” she exclaims. “I enjoy the challenge. I really think my recall is better. I find that I don’t have to refer to my lists as often.”
The Brain Emporium’s computerized programs are designed to engage and stimulate different areas of cognition, including memory, visual-spatial abilities, mental flexibility, processing speed, language and planning. Another regular Brain Emporium attendee, Mickey Lewin, believes such games have helped improve her memory. “People can tell me numbers and I don’t have to have them repeat it,” she observes. “I don’t reverse numbers like I used to. I remember more things now.”
In addition to offering a diverse array of brain fitness computer programs, the Brain Emporium encourages older adults to engage in physical movement, thereby building coordination and agility, while playing virtual tennis, bowling, or darts on a Nintendo Wii.
Visitors to The Brain Emporium work with Dr. McCallum and his graduate student assistants to design training regimens tailored to the individual’s interests and abilities. The facility is also attended by Intergenerational School students, who can earn privileges to volunteer at the Brain Emporium and instruct the older adults on the Wii.
The Brain Emporium is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; however, hours may increase to meet growing demand. Dr. McCallum is also currently creating a didactic class that incorporates brain fitness programs and educational information designed to help older adults maintain a healthy brain.
For questions or additional information about The Brain Emporium, please contact Dr. McCallum at TJM16@case.edu or 216-368-6470.