Focus on Seniors

Study: Brain Games May Forestall Dementia Onset

Use a computer to access cognitive training websites.
Matilda Charles, December 2016
Posted

If you don’t yet have a computer or tablet, recent news might persuade you to ask for one for your Christmas: brain training exercises reduce dementia.

Researchers at a half-dozen universities collaborated on different cognitive training programs with nearly 3,000 participants starting in 1998. The program, called the Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly study (ACTIVE), tested reasoning, memory and speed of processing information using one of four methods: memory training, speed of processing information training, reasoning training and none at all. Getting results didn’t take long. Only 10 sessions of training over five weeks were required.

Of the above methods, it was only the speed training that delayed the onset of dementia, by a whopping 48 percent over the course of 10 years. Researchers even made it more specific: Each session of training reduced the risk of dementia by 8 percent. Participants experienced improvement in areas of attention, feelings of control, quality of life and even improved driving reaction time because objects off to the side were seen more quickly.

The online version of the program they used is called “Double Decision,” and it can be found on brainhq.com if you search for that name. As samples, there are games to play for free. Here’s one example: Identifying fast-moving objects on a screen, including those in peripheral vision, with tasks getting more and more difficult.

While it’s tempting to see online brain training as the end-all to delaying dementia, we should not forget that the Federal Trade Commission once fined a maker of brain games for making false claims.

On the other hand, funding for this long-term research was made possible by the National Institute on Aging.

Suggestion: Go online to those free games at brainhq.com and try a few. Decide for yourself.

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