In the basement of the Downtown Oakland Senior Center, there’s a group of  people who spend their weekday afternoons sitting around a computer lab discussing neurons and glial cells. They’re students in a popular new course at the center aimed at improving memory.

Like their peers around the country, Oakland residents are living longer, and they are more active in caring for their own cognitive health. Now, for the first time, the center is responding to their needs by offering a computerized brain fitness course developed by San Francisco-based PositScience.

Ranging in age from 61 to 97,  they work through a series of six  listening exercises each designed to challenge a different part of the brain and to stimulate the release of neuromodulators, or learning chemicals.

And six weeks in, some in the class are already reporting increased alertness, sharper focus and better learning.

“Now I remember what I’m forgetting,” quipped April Hecter, 65, of Oakland.