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ACTIVE study: Well-targeted brain training might significantly reduce dementia risk


–An exam­ple of a speed-of-pro­cess­ing task. Cour­tesy of Posit Sci­ence

Play on! In a first, brain train­ing cuts risk of demen­tia 10 years lat­er (STAT News):

For the first time ever, researchers have man­aged to reduce people’s risk for demen­tia — not through a med­i­cine, spe­cial diet, or exer­cise, but by hav­ing healthy old­er adults play a com­put­er-based brain-train­ing game.

The train­ing near­ly halved the inci­dence of Alzheimer’s dis­ease and oth­er dev­as­tat­ing forms of cog­ni­tive and mem­o­ry loss in old­er adults a decade after they com­plet­ed it, sci­en­tists report­ed on Sun­day. If the sur­pris­ing find­ing holds up, the inter­ven­tion would be the first of any kind — includ­ing drugs, diet, and exer­cise — to do that…

The results, pre­sent­ed at the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence in Toron­to, come from the gov­ern­ment-fund­ed ACTIVE (Advanced Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Inde­pen­dent and Vital Elder­ly) study. Start­ing in 1998, ACTIVE’s 2,832 healthy old­er adults (aver­age age at the start: 74) received one of three forms of cog­ni­tive train­ing, or none, and were eval­u­at­ed peri­od­i­cal­ly in the years after…A key ques­tion is, if speed-of-pro­cess­ing train­ing can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, can more be bet­ter? The ACTIVE par­tic­i­pants got, at most, 14 hours of it near­ly 20 years ago. But “giv­en that 10 to 14 ses­sions had these ben­e­fits, just think what we could do with more,” Edwards said. “We should be thrilled about this.”

Study: Cog­ni­tive Train­ing May Reduce New Cas­es of Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment and Demen­tia (press release; opens PDF)

  • Cog­ni­tive train­ing for the main­te­nance of brain health is a grow­ing area of inter­est, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it may offer a com­ple­ment or alter­na­tive to drug ther­a­pies in delay­ing the onset of cog­ni­tive decline. At AAIC 2016, researchers pre­sent­ed 10-year results from the Advanced Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Inde­pen­dent and Vital Elder­ly (ACTIVE) study, which exam­ined the impact of sev­er­al types of brain train­ing on cog­ni­tive­ly healthy old­er adults (aver­age age 73.6)…After 10 years, only the speed-of-pro­cess­ing train­ing group showed a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant impact on cog­ni­tion. The researchers detect­ed a 33 per­cent reduc­tion (p=0.012) in risk of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive decline or demen­tia over those 10 years in those assigned to the speed train­ing group. Par­tic­i­pants who did the boost­er ses­sions – those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in 11 or more ses­sions of the com­put­er­ized train­ing – showed a 48 per­cent reduc­tion in risk of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive decline or demen­tia over time. There was no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the oth­er two train­ing groups.”

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