1 mile west of the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall (800) 810 3100
written by Catherine Law, with Rick Law marbles1playing-for-keeps Most of us think that the only thing we have to worry about as our brains age is memory loss.  If you ask your doctor, he’ll tell you that there are different aspects to what we think of as memory: critical thinking, cognitive reserve, auditory processing…  it’s enough to make your head spin!  Recently I stopped in at a new store called “Marbles” in the Chicago Loop and talked to owner Lindsay Gaskins, who uses brain games to help us make sense of it all. “Nutrition and fitness are the two things that get hammered home all the time,” says Lindsay.  “What we really want, from a science standpoint, is mental stimulation.  That’s the third cog in the wheel.  We think Marbles is a place where you can find that third thing.” The Marbles store grew from the idea that there should be a gym for your brain in the same way there are gyms for your body. The store is divided into five different areas: Memory, Coordination, Visual Perception, Critical Thinking, and Word Skills.  The place is exciting and colorful!  It’s filled with tables of various games, so you can try out different ones and see what you like best.  “[Mental] cross-training is really important,” says Lindsay.  “People have heard “memory,” but they don’t realize they need to be working on other skills too.  Your whole brain is connected.  We try to get people started with something that they like, but then you really need to try something else.” She is convinced that we have to push beyond the comfort zone! Where the biggest difference lies between this brain gym and a physical gym, is that the brain gym is a whole lot more fun!  Lindsay went on to explain that since all of these tools can be taken home, they also incorporate the social aspect of mental stimulation—which makes it doubly beneficial when working to boost your brainpower.  She said that many of the games are fun and challenging for seniors, but are simple enough that they can be played with the grandkids.  In addition, there’s something for everyone: learning games for children, brain-building software, 3-D puzzles, books, even toys to help with coordination. While they have gifts and toys for every type of person, what Lindsay wasn’t expecting was the multiple-generational interest they have seen. She thought this was all going to be about the Boomers.  “We weren’t expecting that twenty- to forty-year-olds would enjoy this store.” Want to know what you could do to improve your brain health?  Lindsay and the team at Marbles will help you find out.  “We have games that work on very specific things people have challenges with; even when they may not be aware of which challenges they have, we can work to assess them.  Of course we’re not doctors, but what we have are interesting tools that have been developed by the scientific community and are now available for people to use at home.” Marbles can be found online at www.MarblesTheBrainStore.com, or in the Chicagoland area at their Loop and Old Orchard locations. I highly recommend that you ‘remember’ to visit with them!