An expert says people who spend money on brain trainers to keep their mind sharp may get the same benefit from simply doing a crossword.
Loss of thinking power is a fear shared by many aging baby boomers. That fear has resulted in a budding industry for brain training products, exercises such as Brain Age, Mindfit and My Brain Trainer.
Some companies like Brain Center International, which produces NeuroActive, promise regular users they'll shave 10 years of brain aging after eight weeks of use.
However, University of Montreal Professor Sylvie Belleville has warned that there is no scientific evidence to support a range of manufacturers' claims that the gadgets can help improve memory or prevent Alzheimer's.
"To my knowledge, there is no scientific research demonstrating results from such recreational programs," says Sylvie Belleville, a professor at the Université de Montréal' Department of Psychology and associate research director of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.
According to Belleville, the principles of intellectual stimulation aren't false, but their efficiency haven't been scientifically proven. She said that Sudoku and crosswords could work just as well.
According to Belleville, yet there are programs that exist that have been proven to benefit seniors and Alzheimer's victims.
"These programs are based on memory strategies. They have nothing to do with the repetitive exercises offered by NeuroActive and others," she said.
While memory products can be helpful, Belleville warns against the unrealistic expectations some may provide.
She stresses that the advertising of these products "could give false hopes. If someone doesn't see a change they could quit and it could eventually lead to depression."