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Brain training has 'some effect'

24th August 2009

Video games that claim to boost the health of one’s brain have some effect on mental acuity, according to a recent study.

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Researchers tested a computer program called Brain Fitness on a group of almost 500 people age 65 and older, in a study partially funded by the game’s manufacturer.

Half of the test group played the game for one hour a day over a period of eight weeks, while other half of the group spent their time watching educational videos and taking quizzes.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the people who played the game had better attention and memory than the other group.

The subjects themselves reported improvements in overall thinking skills, as well as mental focus.

Liz Zelinski, professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California and one of the researchers, said that scientists do not know for certain whether or not thinking games improve anything beyond the activities that people practice.

She said that they are not likely to build the brain if people find themselves doing things they have done before.

Some studies have shown that intellectually challenging work or a rich social life can protect the brain from memory loss due to ageing.

Glenn Smith, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, said that he began his research as a skeptic, but changed his mind, and now even appreciates the work done by the developers of the game Brain Fitness.

He said that scientists used to believe brain cells died and could not be replaced, whereas now there is a more hopeful notion of the malleability and plasticity of the brain.

Zelinsky said that the Nintendo DS games Brain Age and Brain Age 2 are not likely to be games in which players make any new neural connections, although they are fun, pleasant diversions that might have some benefits.

However, she said that things that happen to the brain early in life are a strong predictor of what happens later in life, and that Alzheimer’s patients who had lots of education when they were young are more robust when facing the disease.

Art Kramer, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who specialises in brain ageing, said that the benefit of playing such games has yet to be proven.

 

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Comments

Steven Aldrich

Tuesday 25th August 2009 @ 5:51

The studies referenced by Glenn Smith and Liz Zelinksi were conducted using Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program. Over 30 studies have now been published in peer-reviewed journals showing Posit Science’s technology has a range of benefits from improved memory to safer driving to lowered health care costs in healthy aging adults.

As the CEO of Posit Science, I invite you to try free exercises and learn more at www.positscience.com

Martin Walker

Tuesday 25th August 2009 @ 18:44

It's great to see these kind of studies showing the benefits and reaching a broad distribution in the media. I firmly believe that targeted training can be very helpful for maintaining or improving cognitive health and fitness.

Choosing an affordable but effective product can be quite a challenge. Since the brain fitness industry is relatively young the cost of a product does not necessarily indicate its quality.

In terms of effectiveness, a study last year on Improving Fluid Intelligence by Training Working Memory (PNAS April 2008) recorded increases in mental agility (fluid intelligence) of more than 40% after 19 days of focused brain training. My company publishes a software program using the same training method.
Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro

Brain Fitness Pro has since been selected as a Top Ten gift pick by PC Mag and has been chosen by top brain gym vibrantBrains as an addition to their lineup.

Martin
www.mindsparke.com
Effective, Affordable Brain Training Software


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