Brain training 'could cut dementia risk', says study

In 2014, a group of almost 70 neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists led by researchers at Stanford University's Center on Longevity and the Berlin Max Planck Institute for Human Development signed a letter saying there was "little evidence" of such results from brain games. Over a period of 10 years, 2,802 cognitively healthy older adults, whose average age was 73.4 when the study began, were divided into four groups, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Based on a new research, which was presented at this year's Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto, playing computerized brain games can decrease the risk of dementia by 48 percent.

While it is certainly important to have a plan in place for someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, people should also consider what is called brain training in order to be proactive in preventing the problem.

Jobs involving "mentoring" - such as social worker, physician, school counsellor, psychologist, and pastor - were considered most complex, said Ms Elizabeth Boots, a research specialist at the University of Wisconsin and the study's presenting author.

Moreover, participants who took part in the other two training programs, which focused on memory retention and reasoning, were slightly less likely than the control group to suffer cognitive decline or dementia. In this exercise, the participants were asked to quickly identify the objects flashed on the screen.

It's not clear why speed mental processing training works, or the exact changes it causes to the brain. The researchers followed the participants for at least six months. They said that it is not just about searching for a cure, there still needs to be treatments administered, which includes prescribing the appropriate medications and being aware of what advancements in medicine are available for patients.

Edwards did a secondary analysis of the 10-year data, looking at the time it took individuals to develop dementia.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre in the U.S. used the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) to analyse sense of smell in 397 older people without dementia.

These studies are helping to narrow down the particular types of brain activity that can help protect the brain as it ages, added Dean Hartley, director of science initiatives for the Alzheimer's Association.

The specific exercise tested was the "Double Decision" game, one of several brain games marketed by the San Francisco-based Posit Science Corp, the Times said.

These studies are showing the on-set of Alzheimer's or dementia being delayed up to 10 years. The research suggests that performing tasks that challenge a person's ability to reason and remember, greatly benefits elderly people.

"Using other biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease to detect the disease at an earlier stage, which have the potential to be lower-cost and non-invasive, could lead to dramatic improvements in early detection and management of the disease", Snyder said in the release. One found that while a "Western" diet is associated with cognitive decline, people who ate such food could offset the negative effects and experienced less cognitive decline if they also had a mentally stimulating lifestyle.

Two studies looked at how complex work and social engagement counteract the effects of unhealthy diet and cerebrovascular disease on cognition.

Researchers found that five categories of symptoms often precede memory loss in Alzheimer's: apathy; mood; impulse control; social appropriateness and perception.

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