and Alzheimer's disease which have been feared more than cancer affect 1 in 50
people between 65 to 70 years of age
are no effective treatments for neuro-degenerative conditions
- The onset of age-related degenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's disease can
be delayed by brain training with simple and entertaining online games.
- The findings establish a "spectacular" link between speed-of-processing
(visual) training and a reduction in cognitive decline among the elderly.
The onset of age-related
degenerative conditions like dementia
and Alzheimer's disease
can be delayed by brain training
with simple and entertaining online games. In the study conducted over a 10
year period, researchers found that older adults who did simple exercises which
challenge their memory, reasoning skills and increase the speed at which
they processed visual information could cut their likelihood of cognitive decline
or dementia by nearly half.
1 in 50 people
between the ages of 65 and 70 years have some form of dementia similar to one
in five people over the age of 80.
With 76 million baby boomers being at the vulnerable age of developing
Alzheimer's and with no effective treatments available to stop its
progression, researchers are keen to develop ways to prevent or delay the onset of the disease
. The new research
suggests that an inexpensive intervention without unwanted side effects might
forestall dementia symptoms. The findings are "spectacular" considering the cheap cost and
easy distribution of the online games
In people whose work requires complex thinking, delayed onset of
Alzheimer's disease is seen.
‘Computerized brain games can cut the risk of dementia by 30 percent in older adults.’
The new clinical trial results, presented
at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto, proved that specialized brain training could be
used as a potentially powerful strategy to prevent Alzheimer's disease and
related conditions, including normal aging, that rob memory and reduce
The latest results emerged from a 10-year
study the ACTIVE (Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital
Elderly) study, compared the effects of three forms of
brain training in a group comprising
of over 2700 adults cognitively healthy
seniors, who were recruited in 1998.
The participants were divided into two main
groups. The first group
that constituted a quarter of the participants served as the control group.
They had an average age of 73.4 years at the beginning of the study and
got no training at all. The participants of second group
were further divided into three groups, and within five
weeks each group got training sessions that lasted for 10 hours. One group got
a classroom-based course designed to impart strategies for boosting memory
; a second got a classroom-based course designed to sharpen participants' reasoning skills
. The third group was given computerized (online)
designed to increase the speed at which
the brain picks up and processes signals in a person's field of vision. The speed
of visual processing is a cognitive function that declines with age, a
condition that some neuroscientists attribute to the increasing "noise" in
electrical communications between cells and regions in the brain.
The game tests an individual's ability to
detect, remember and respond to the
stimulus that appears
and disappear quickly in different locations on a computer screen. It uses
colorful images and challenges players with enhanced difficulty as their
proficiency increases. With increased accuracy, the pictures appear more fleetingly
and begin to look more similar. This process is known as speed-of-processing training
follow up which took place after 10 years, scientists were in touch with all
but 47 of the participants. Among those who received the brain-training
exercises, the cumulative risk of developing cognitive decline or dementia over
10 years was 33% lower than for participants who got no training at all. About
14% of participants in the control group suffered significant cognitive decline
or dementia, compared with 11.4% in the memory training group, 11.7% in
the reasoning strategies training group and 10.5% in the speed-of-processing
group. Cognitive decline or dementia was less among those in the
speed-of-processing group and dementia appeared later in that group.
group of participants in the computerized-training group got "booster sessions"
in the form of at least one class for 11 and 35 months after the initial training. Their risk of
cognitive decline or dementia declined even further. Their risk of developing
dementia was only 8.2%. Compared to study participants who got no training,
those who got more than 10 computerized brain-training sessions
were 48% less likely to experience
dementia or cognitive decline, over 10 years.
Participants who took part in the other two
training routines, which focused on teaching strategies for remembering and for
reasoning, were slightly less likely than the control group to suffer cognitive
decline or dementia over the study's 10 year period. That was particularly true
for those who got 10 sessions to improve reasoning-strategies.
In the ACTIVE trial, the participants'
cognitive health was measured at intervals of one, two, three, five and
10 years after the initial training took place, using several standardized
batteries. Researchers gauged the participants' mood, confidence and
self-rated health, and surveyed their ability to conduct daily tasks like preparing
meals, driving and taking care of finances.
The lead author of
the study Jerri Edwards, an associate professor in the School of Aging Studies
at the University of South Florida, said the ACTIVE study's findings appear to
be a milestone. She said "the first time a cognitive training intervention has
been shown to protect against cognitive impairment or dementia in a large,
randomized, controlled trial." She has been investigating
speed-of-processing for more than twenty years along with the co-researcher,
Karlene Ball, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jerri Edwards said
that the suggestion that continued brain training can provide older people
further protection against dementia.She added "Next we'd like to get a better
grasp on what exactly is the right amount of cognitive training to get the
training could be used as a potentially powerful strategy to prevent
Alzheimer's disease and other associated conditions. Though the results were
promising, the researchers still believe that more exploration of the field is