Brain game could reduce dementia risk

Friday, 05 Aug, 2016

According to these reports, formal education, complex work and newly-identified genes may increase resilience to cognitive decline and dementia, even in people at high risk for the disease because of unhealthful diet or blood vessel problems in the brain.

For the first time ever, researchers have managed to reduce people's risk for dementia by playing a computer game.

In addition, popular computer-based cognitive programs and brain games are inundated with claims of rejuvenating our memory and sharpening our focus - but do they really work?

"It's clear that the science around biological measures in the detection of Alzheimer's continues to gather pace and validation", Heather Snyder, Ph.D., senior director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer's Association, said in the release. In a study released Sunday, researchers found that older adults who did exercises to shore up the speed at which they processed visual information could cut by almost half their likelihood of cognitive decline or dementia over a 10-year period.

With so much research happening to not only treat Alzheimer's disease, but also to prevent it, researchers are hoping that doctors will stop under treating patients and instead work towards a cure rather than just research for a cure. She recommends people start speed training beginning at age 50. "I do think we will know more after the paper is reviewed".

Dr Rohrer said: 'People become more irritable, saying rude things that are socially unacceptable, because one of the symptoms is loss of empathy towards loved ones.

Three quarters of the volunteers carried out the brain training, while one quarter had no contact and served as a control group. "Previous research has shown some promise for brain training in improving memory, although these small-scale studies have been inconclusive". One found that while a "Western" diet is associated with cognitive decline, people who ate such food could offset the negative effects and experienced less cognitive decline if they also had a mentally stimulating lifestyle.

They found that a "Western" diet - red and processed meats, white bread, potatoes, prepackaged foods and candies - is associated with steeper brain decline in older adults.

Again, the study couldn't prove cause and effect.

Jobs associated with the most cognitive "help" were lawyer, teacher, social worker, engineer and doctor. He is from Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. The figure was lower — 8 percent — for people who got some extra booster training.

The third study provided results from a 10-year clinical trial involving nearly 2,800 people sorted into one of three different brain training groups. There's been increasing belief that the brain has plasticity, meaning it can rejuvenate with training at any age instead of necessarily deteriorating, and speed processing exercises are one manner that has proven effective in doing so, Mr. Merzenich said.

The objective of the computer-based training was to help people take in and process information on the screen faster. The researchers were led by Jerri Edwards, from the University of South Florida, and the results were presented at the Alzheimer's Association annual meeting on Sunday.

In a trial of more than 33,000 participants who had tests on memory, reaction time and reasoning, eye scans showed the nerve fibre layer was "significantly thinner" among those who performed poorly on cognitive tests. "Next, we'd like to get a better grasp on what exactly is the right amount of cognitive training to get the optimal benefits".