Sam Bauman: Slopes are sweet in spring, but the season is nearly over

Seniors probably have a couple of more weeks to ski Tahoe, thanks to recent snows. But Homewood has closed, and other resorts will do so soon.

Heavenly is tossing a big party over the next few days, and even if you’re not a senior skier, there’s lots of action there. I’ve been at Heavenly’s Boulder base lately, and while the snow has crept back, the runs on Boulder and North Bowl are pretty good.

This is spring skiing and is the most fun of any season. Seniors should remember that now a person skis icy snow in the morning and corn snow as the day warms up. Skiing corn snow (formed when snow melts during the day and refreezes over night into corn-sized pellets) is very much like powder skiing. Keep your skis parallel and your weight pretty well-divided; turn both skis at the same time.

Brain training

If you listen to 88.7-FM out of Reno, you’ve undoubtedly heard the ads for Lumosity, a brain-training and neuroscience research company out of San Francisco. I went to the ’Net and checked it out.

The website invites users to take a trial test, which I did. It took about 20 minutes and consisted of flashes on screen of various geometric pictures and numbers. Test-takers try to identify positions as well as remember them and numbers that flash by.

I got scores for how well I did in memory and identity recall. I have no idea how I stacked up against the millions of other players. After the test I was encouraged to sign up for regular participation in the brain games. Fees ranged from $14.95 per individual each month to $240 for a year.

Lumosity offers a brain-training program consisting of more than 40 games in the areas of memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing and problem solving.

Lumosity (also known as Lumos Labs) was founded in 2005 by Kunal Sarkar, Michael Scanlon and David Drescher. launched in 2007 and as of November 2013 has over 50 million members.

Studies of Lumosity’s effectiveness have shown mixed results. Some have shown benefits:

• Dr. Shelli Kesler and colleagues at Stanford University found improved cognitive performance and corresponding increases in brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex in survivors of childhood cancer following training with Lumosity. Participants who trained with Lumosity showed significantly improved processing speed, cognitive flexibility, and verbal and visual declarative memory scores.

• Kesler demonstrated enhanced math skills and cognitive performance with corresponding changes in brain activity in people with Turner syndrome following training with Lumosity.

• Kesler found that women whose breast cancer had been treated with chemotherapy demonstrated improved executive function, such as cognitive flexibility, verbal fluency and processing speed after Lumosity training. This work is published in Clinical Breast Cancer.

However, other studies had mixed results, with one stating, “There is no scientific evidence to support a range of manufacturers’ claims [including Lumosity’s] that the gadgets can help improve memory or stave off the risk of illnesses such as dementia.”

Can 50 million users be wrong? I don’t know, but I “flex” my brain daily doing the Nevada Appeal crossword, bridge column and cartoon asking me to find differences between panels and the Sudoku game.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.


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