“With an aging population worried about cognitive decline and dementia, such training programs have seen a burst in popularity in recent years. Consumers spent an estimated $1.9 billion on digital brain health and neurotechnology apps in 2018, a fourfold increase from $475 million in 2012, according to global data from SharpBrains, an independent market-research firm.
But despite the rising interest in cognitive training, evidence of its benefits is still a mixed bag, experts say.
“There will be one study that shows a benefit, but then there will be another study that fails to show a benefit,” says Dan Press, a neurologist and director of the cognitive-neurology unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who helps run the Brain Fit Club, a brain-training program at Beth Israel that incorporates activities such as tai-chi and yoga as well as nutrition education … That’s why it’s important to focus on what recent research says does work. For example, there is some evidence that a so-called multipronged approach — a combination of brain training, healthy diet, exercise and vascular monitoring — can improve or maintain cognitive function.”