Brain Training – Can it reduce the risk of dementia?

Brain Training – Can it reduce the risk of dementia?

By: Laura P. Etre, Psy.D.
Chief Psychology Officer

At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto in July, Jerri Edwards, PhD of the University of South Florida presented results from a 10-year study on brain training, called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE). The study found that cognitive training programs, specifically computerized speed-of-processing training, were found to protect against dementia over a 10-year period.

The results of the study are encouraging. Of the 2,785 participants in the randomized, controlled trial that included people over the age of 65, those who completed 11 or more computerized speed-of-processing training sessions were 48 percent less likely to develop dementia than the control group. In addition, participation in speed-of-processing training was also found to protect against depression and improve functioning overall.

These findings go a step further than the evidence that the Alzheimer’s Association has been presenting for some time – that staying mentally active and living a healthy lifestyle can reduce cognitive decline (the reduction in reaction and processing times relating to aging). This new study asserts that computerized training specifically can reduce the risk of dementia as well.

Speed-of-processing training coupled with a healthy lifestyle in older adults could make a significant positive impact on overall cognitive health by reducing the risk of the development of dementia and associated mental health conditions.

Further research is necessary to get more information on the specifics: who might be helped, and what type of training is most effective.  MedOptions plans to become involved in the study of brain training and looks forward to contributing to developments in this important and promising research.