Monday, April 24, 2006

I Am So Smart, S-M-R-T

Rest assured, dear reader, I won't be succumbing to the crippling affects of Alzheimer's any time soon. I have purchased Brain Age for the DS and have begun a nightly regiment of puzzles to ensure that my drool stays where it belongs, well into my golden years. This also allows me to ignore the wife with impunity as we watch television. Before, when I would ignore her by playing Castlevania, I was treated with scorn. Not so now! Now when disparaging looks are cast my way, I can tell her that I'm engaging in actual, medically studied activities meant to allow me to keep all my faculties as we head down the highway to the inevitable, sweet release of death. As I tell her, I'm not playing this game for me, I'm playing for us.

Far be it from me to disparage the results of a lauded member of Japan's, nay, the world's medical community, but I feel as if the results of my Brain Age tests are sometimes off the mark. Allow me to explain.

The game consists of a variety of puzzles, exercises, what have you, that get your prefrontal cortex all fired up. As this region of your brain is important for reasons too numerous to mention here (translation: I don't know) it is equally important to engage in activities that are accomplished in this region. Engaging in these activities on a regular basis gets blood flowing to this area of the brain, which keeps it healthy, thereby ensuring you can do basic math as you become old and infirm.

In order to gauge your "Brain Age", you do these randomly picked exercises and the system then records how well you did and spits out the average age of test subjects who performed as well as you did. In other words, if you completed the exercise in 55 seconds, and the average age of test subjects who performed it in 55 seconds is say, 46, then your "Brain Age" is 46. The problem here, is that there are exercises where you will naturally excel at, and ones you won't. For example, I can rock the 20 calculations in no time flat. It's 20 simple math calculations, one right after the other. You write down your answers and get graded right or wrong. Get them wrong, and your time is penalized. The faster you can complete them the better. I have trained myself to be able to figure out the next calculation (you can see them all on the screen) as I'm writing down the answer to the current one, thereby giving the illusion of blinding mathematical speed. We're talking Numb3rs type shit here. I could be at Cal Tech or some similarly Tech style place of higher learning. Perhaps with a lab coat and a disheveled hair style.

When the age determination test has these kind of exercises, I do very well, when it has the word memorization exercise, I fail miserably. The premise is that they show you 30 4 letter words. No, not those 4 letter words you pervert. They then give you 2 minutes to memorize them. Once you've committed them to memory, you have 3 minutes to write down as many as you can remember. Yeah, good luck with that one. As anyone with kids will tell you, all memory goes out the window once you bring children into the home. If you don't write it down, it's forgotten, and even then, it isn't a guarantee, because you have to remember that you wrote it down and where you wrote it down in the first place. I've tried various rhymes and songs to help me memorize the words, but the most I've ever gotten is 11 which takes me about 30 seconds to write down. I then spend 2:30 just randomly picking 4 letter words out of my head. There are a lot of them, if you've ever taken the time to think about it. When the brain age determination thingy has this puzzle in it, I swear the DS is making reservations for me at the local assisted living facility.

Friday night I took my Brain Age and with the memorization puzzle, I got a score of 46, which is much better from the downright awful score of 63 I got the night before, but still a full 13 years older than my actual age. The next night, with no memorization puzzles, I scored a 23. Hell yeah! I'm wicked young and shit! Sunday night, I took it again, with the memorization, and I scored a 45. I think there should be a checkbox to tell the system that I have kids, so that it can just throw out any results derived from memorization puzzles. Besides, when was the last time I needed to memorize 30 words anyway? Right, never, whereas I am constantly asked to count how many people enter and leave a house in a given time period and provide the final tally of houseguests. That's some serious census type shit right there.

It's not like the numbers mean anything, but I do feel pretty shitty when I get a Brain Age significantly older than my actual age. I'm not anything special to look at, and I have no real demonstrable skills, so my brain is all I have. I'd like to keep it for a long as possible, at least until I can get it transferred into a younger, sexier, talent laden body. Plus, I know that once you hit 50 physical years, you start having to have exams with people putting strange things in you and taking videos and such. I don't think that anything similar exists for one's brain, but I'd rather not take my chances. There are things in there best left to the mind's dark corners.

Even if the game isn't doing anything from a clinical perspective, it's still a lot of fun, and for 20 bucks is a pretty significant value. Plus, it has gotten me hooked on Soduku, which is just what I need, more puzzles to keep me from paying attention to whatever me and the wife are watching. Also, given that I suck at the shooting type games, if ever aliens do invade and need to be beaten with conventional warfare, I'll have nothing to offer the resistance, however if their weakness lies in the ability to quickly count spinning numbers, I will singlehandedly pull this world from the gaping maw of destruction.


redheaded said...

games. all i ever play is super mario brothers!

k o w said...

Last night I got 24 out of the 30 4 letter words. I was shocked by it.

I just wish the DS would understand "blue" when I say it.

suburbanjoe said...


Greg said...

When I get a DS Lite, this will be one of the first games I get.

Hey - you sit on the couch with a game and ignore your wife too? I thought I was the only one who got in trouble for that!

suburbanjoe said...

I sure do! It's a long proud tradition.