Brain Exercises Produce Long-Lasting Results

August 14, 2020

A recent article in the Boston Globe  announced a first-of-its kind study that older adults who engaged in brain training drills retained measurable benefits up to 10 years later, suggesting that such interventions may help stave off impairments of aging that rob seniors of their independence.

Most brain games on the market involve computer exercises. But in the new study, researchers used paper-and-pencil tests that honed problem-solving involving letter and number patterns, in addition to computer drills that tested the ability to quickly distinguish an image among a constantly changing screen.

The latest trial found that nearly three-quarters of those who participated in reasoning exercises and information-processing drills still displayed those abilities a decade later.

Scientists not involved with the study called it unique and provocative, and said it unquestionably shows that older adults who receive brain training are able to maintain those skills over the long term.

The federally funded study appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Study coauthor Sharon Tennstedt, vice president of New England Research Institutes, said results of the brain training suggest that it helped participants carry out everyday activities as if they were about 10 years younger, allowing someone at 80 to function more like a typical 70-year-old.

She stressed that the findings do not indicate brain-training is a way to prevent dementia, but rather to slow its arrival.

Participants in all of the training groups said they had less trouble performing everyday tasks a decade later, compared to those who underwent no training.

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