Workouts for Your Brain

Cognitive fitness is a hot concept, but can fancy software stave off dementia?

Illustration for TIME by Paul Sahre

Last Spring, as Arthur Marquis started brushing up on the French he'd learned in junior high, the 61-year-old retired lawyer and Long Beach, Calif., resident had trouble discerning where one mellifluous word ended and the next began. So he decided to exercise his auditory skills in much the same way a bodybuilder might zero in on a particular muscle group. His weapon of choice: Posit Science's Brain Fitness software, which promised to hone his hearing, as well as his memory, for $395. (Yes, you heard that right: $395.) After completing the program's 40 hour-long sessions, he's a believer. "Now I can...

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