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To delay dementia, try challenging (vs. routine) brain stimulation…up to a point

brain__skeletonBrain games that could pay off in retire­ment (Mar­ket­Watch):

Cog­ni­tive aging is the biggest health cri­sis in our coun­try,” said Denise C. Park…the mon­e­tary cost of demen­tia in the U.S. tops $157 bil­lion annu­al­ly, accord­ing to esti­mates by the Rand Corp.—and that num­ber could more than dou­ble by 2040 if the cur­rent trend con­tin­ues…

Park’s recent research focused on brain stim­u­la­tion through a vari­ety of real-life activ­i­ties. Researchers sep­a­rat­ed healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 90 into six groups over the course of the 14-week study…“Based on our find­ings, I would sug­gest that peo­ple do activ­i­ties that are men­tal­ly chal­leng­ing, but not so much that it becomes aver­sive,” Park said.

Researchers called this type of activ­i­ty “pro­duc­tive engage­ment.” It refers to tasks that involve active learn­ing and sus­tained mem­o­ry acti­va­tion. The real-life take­away: It’s best to find a hob­by or job that chal­lenges you, but not so much that you’re frus­trat­ed and want to give up, Park said.

In contrast…the group that received activ­i­ty pack­ets used “recep­tive engage­ment.” These activ­i­ties, includ­ing mag­a­zines and cross­word puz­zles, relied on pas­sive obser­va­tion, the acti­va­tion of exist­ing knowl­edge, and famil­iar activ­i­ties. Par­tic­i­pants in this group also improved on the tests, Park said, but not near­ly as much as those study­ing quilt­ing and/or pho­tog­ra­phy…

Out­side of acad­e­mia, brain fit­ness has become a big busi­ness: the brain train­ing and cog­ni­tive assess­ment mar­ket reached an esti­mat­ed $1.3 bil­lion in 2013, up from an esti­mat­ed $210 mil­lion in 2005, accord­ing to Sharp­Brains, a San Fran­cis­co-based inde­pen­dent mar­ket research firm. While some brain-train­ing pro­grams focus on chil­dren and adults with atten­tion deficit dis­or­ders, many tar­get old­er cus­tomers, pitch­ing brain work­outs on com­put­ers as a way to help ward off demen­tia.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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