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.”

Relat­ed articles:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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