Use it or lose it: Mind games help healthy older people too

March 27, 2012

Cognitive training including puzzles, handicrafts and life skills are known to reduce the risk, and help slow down the progress, of dementia amongst the elderly. A new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine showed that cognitive training was able to improve reasoning, memory, language and hand eye co-ordination of healthy, older adults.

It is estimated that by 2050 the number of people over 65 years old will have increased to 1.1 billion worldwide, and that 37 million of these will suffer from dementia. Research has already shown that mental activity can reduce a person's risk of dementia but the effect of mental training on healthy people is less well understood. To address this researchers from China have investigated the use of cognitive training as a defence against mental decline for healthy who live independently.

To be recruited onto the trial participants had to be between 65 and 75 years old, and have good enough eyesight, hearing, and communication skills, to be able to complete all parts of the training. The hour long training sessions occurred twice a week, for 12 weeks, and the subjects were provided with homework. Training included a multi-approach system tackling memory, reasoning, problem solving, , handicrafts, health education and exercise, or focussing on reasoning only. The effect of booster training, provided six months later, was also tested.

The results of the study were positive. Profs Chunbo Li and Wenyuan Wu who led the research explained, "Compared to the , who received no training, both levels of cognitive training improved , although the multifaceted training had more of a long term effect. The more detailed training also improved memory, even when measured a year later and booster training had an additional improvement on mental ability scores."

This study shows that cognitive training therapy may prevent amongst healthy older people and help them to continue independent living longer in their advancing years.

Explore further: Brain training exercises more effective at improving cognitive function than crossword puzzles, study says

More information: The effects of multi-domain versus single-domain cognitive training in non-demented older people: a randomized controlled trial. Yan Cheng, Wenyuan Wu, Wei Feng, Jiaqi Wang, You Chen, Yuan Shen, Qingwei Li, Xu Zhang and Chunbo Li. BMC Medicine (in press)

Related Stories

Brain training exercises more effective at improving cognitive function than crossword puzzles, study says

November 30, 2011
A new study shows that doing brain training exercises is more effective at improving cognitive function than performing knowledge games, like crossword puzzles. This is the preliminary analysis of the results from Iowa Healthy ...

Mental gyms reap younger minds

February 2, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A daily mental ‘work-out' has given a group of over 50s the brain performance of people several years younger, a Swinburne University of Technology clinical trial has shown.

Brain training computer game improves some cognitive functions relatively quickly

January 11, 2012
The brain training computer game "Brain Age" can improve executive functions and processing speed, even with a relatively short training period, but does not affect global cognitive status or attention, according to a study ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.