Brain training game linked to lower dementia risk a decade later

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(Mallory Locklear/ New Scientist) — Could a computer brain-training program be the first effective tool for preventing dementia? The results from a decade-long study of over a thousand people suggests it might be.

Approximately 47 million people have dementia worldwide, but there are no known interventions that can be used to reduce the risk of a person developing the condition.

Now a study of 2,800 people over the age of 65 has found that those who did a type of brain-training intended to boost a person’s brain processing speed were 29 per cent less likely to develop dementia over a ten-year period.

Brain-training is a controversial area. There’s a booming market in computer games designed to improve a person’s memory, attention, or multitasking skills, for example, but evidence on whether they work any better than other types of computer game has been mixed.

Jerri Edwards, of the University of South Florida, and her team have been testing three brain-training programs to see if any might protect against dementia. These programs are designed to target memory, reasoning, or processing speed. “These are very basic abilities that tend to decline with age,” says Edwards. (…)

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