'Brain training' work wonders for the elderly
Sydney: A new study shows that engaging older adults into computer-based brain training can lead to improvements in memory, speed and thinking skills.
However, it has no impact on attention or executive functions such as impulse control, planning and problem solving, a team of Australian researchers revealed.
"Our results, however, show that brain training under a trained professional can improve cognition in older adults but commercial products promoted for solo training use at home just do not work. There are better ways to spend your time and money," explained associate professor Michael Valenzuela from Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) at University of Sydney.
Promising new evidence now indicates that engaging in challenging mental activities can help maintain cognition and lower the risk of dementia.
In response, a lucrative brain training industry has quickly developed, tapping into the anxieties of baby boomers now entering retirement age and eager to start activities that protect their brains.
For the study, the team combined outcomes from 51 randomised clinical trials, including almost 5,000 participants, using a mathematical approach called meta-analysis.
The findings show that engaging in group-based brain training under the supervision of a trainer is effective at improving performance on a range of cognitive skills in healthy older adults.
The study appeared in the journal PLOS Medicine.