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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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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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