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Brain Train


Memory market grows as Baby Boomers put premium on staying sharp.

In the beginning, Baby Boomers invented sex.

Then came philosophy (John Lennon beats the hell out of all those dense and dreary Germans), art (hey, everyone's an artiste, even those with a conspicuous lack of talent.) and pop psychology (I'm okay, but you're an idiot… Oh, wait.)

Now comes the booming market for "brain fitness" spurred by Baby Boomers appalled by approaching geezerhood.

Video games, including Nintendo's (NTDOY) Brain Age and puzzles such as Sudoku, are said to flex the brain and ward off those annoying senior moments.

Why not? Viagra, Pfizer's (PFE) money-marker, isn't pitched to kids and -- damn -- what's the goo that's supposed to regrow your hair? (Editor's note: Rogaine, another product by Pfizer.)

Are brain exercises necessary in an age when a Global Positioning System in Ford (F), GM (GM), Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM) vehicles makes life simple for even the most incompetent map reader, when websites store passwords and even Microsoft's (MSFT) clunky email program routinely coughs up frequently used addresses?

According to published reports, the brain fitness software market generated $225 million in revenue last year, up from about $100 million in 2005. Let's see: A semi-agile brain calculates that to be a 125% increase.

Some say brain-goosing exercises aren't a fad because the need is driven by Boomers who suddenly find themselves fat and forgetful in their 60s.

The terror, of course, is Alzheimer's disease which, if you believe the popular press, may be caused by aluminum cookware, artificial sweeteners, preservatives (ironic, eh?) and, who knows, global warming. It could also be something simple: People are living longer and we don't fully understand the aging process.

Never mind. Boomers are in a sweat about losing their marbles. Of course, this is all new and no single brain workout can guarantee that cobwebs won't envelop the brain. Maybe if folks just stayed active and engaged with life, brain function wouldn't fade as quickly.

But that won't stop clever entrepreneurs from pitching what may be the 21st century's equivalent of patent medicine.

Coming soon: A book titled We Are The Glorious Generation We've Been Waiting For. It will be pitched to Boomers and be all about living life one day at a time, taking time to smell the (decaffeinated) coffee and just enjoying life because, well, Boomers have earned it after saving the world.

However, Boomers won't leave the scene without first wrecking Social Security, perhaps the greatest monument the nation's most self-indulgent generation can erect to themselves.

In the meantime, give your brain a workout with Martin Heidegger. "The Doctrine of Categories and Signification in Duns Scotus" is sure to get blood flowing to the brain. But who was this guy Nietzche? Didn't he invent Superman or something?

Can't remember. Fiddlesticks! Fire the guns of narcolepsy.
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