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Aaron Seitz

Professor of Psychology
Aaron Seitz
Improving Vision Through Brain Training
Imagine if you could improve your memory and sharpen your vision simply by using an app on your smartphone. Aaron Seitz, a professor of psychology at UCR, is pioneering an exciting new method for doing just that. Employing some of the latest innovations in psychology and neuroscience, Seitz is working to develop a series of “Brain Games” with the intent of improving overall brain fitness.

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Q&A

Q: What is the goal of your research?
The goal of my research is to understand mechanisms of brain plasticity and to translate this knowledge to create interventions that improve people’s mental fitness and well-being. I take an integrative approach where research findings and methodologies from many scientific disciplines are brought together to overcome limitations of individual subfields.

Q: How is your research being used?
We have learned a great deal about the brain’s plasticity mechanisms, about basic cognitive functions (perception, attention, memory, executive function, etc.) and we are well-positioned to use this research toward creating targeted exercises that improve functioning in these systems. This research has broad implications for society in that it can lead to approaches to improve cognitive abilities in individuals with impaired cognitive function (mental health conditions, impairments in vision and hearing, after brain damage, etc.) as well as to augment brain functioning in those looking for enhancements (radiologists, police, athletes, students, etc.). I’m doing this by creating a new generation of “brain games” that take advantage of innovations in psychology and neuroscience computer science.

Q: What’s next for your research?
We’re creating the UCR Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being with the mission to research, test, and disseminate evidence-based, scientifically optimized brain fitness games that transfer benefits to real-life activities. We’ve already had great success with our initial games to improve vision and memory and we want to expand upon this research to create games that are even better and that broadly target perception (audition, vision, tactile), memory, attention, executive function, language skills, happiness and well-being. The goal is to revolutionize brain fitness in the 21st century as was done for physical fitness in the 20th century.

Q: What do you like about doing your research at UCR?
UCR has been a tremendously supportive place to do this research. It is exciting to be at a place that is on the rise and that has such fantastic students, faculty and staff who are inspired to bring UCR to greatness.

Q: What does “Living the Promise” mean to you?
To me, living the promise means striving to fulfill one’s potential. Being a professor is a position of privilege and responsibility. I have the privilege to choose the problems that I want to solve and pursue research in my own way. However, along with this comes the responsibility to make sure that this research is of benefit to society. Living the promise is ensuring that my work at UCR has the greatest positive impact that I can achieve.

Q: What advice do you have for students graduating in the next five years?
Take time to consider what you are most interested in, what you are best at, what you care about, what you want to achieve, and what makes you happy. Make choices that open as many doors as possible and follow opportunities that speak to your interests, strengths, beliefs, goals and happiness. While you are young, you have plenty of time to take risks and follow nontraditional paths that might achieve these ends. Live the promise!
Aaron Seitz “Our novel research in into next-generation ‘brain game’ technology is unlocking tremendous potential to benefit individuals and society as a whole.”

—Aaron Seitz
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