Fabre and colleagues, in 1999, randomly assigned subjects to 4 groups: an aerobic training group (walking or running for 2 h per week for 2 months), a memory training group (one 90 min session a week for 2 months), a combined aerobic and mental training group, or a control group (no training).
Results showed that compared to the control group, the memory performance of all 3 groups increased. The combined group showed greater increase than the other 2 training groups.
This suggests that the effects of cognitive and fitness training may be additive. However this study involved only 8 participants per group! More research is clearly needed before anything can be safely concluded.
In the meantime let’s play it safe and combine fitness and cognitive training for better brain health.
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— Dr. Pascale Michelon helped research and write The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age. She has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and is a Research Scientist at Washington University in Saint Louis, in the Psychology Department. She conducted several research projects to understand how the brain makes use of visual information and memorizes facts.
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