Brain Fitness Studies

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is sure to start conversations about the value of mental exercises and what they can and cannot do.  Here is what some media outlets are saying. 

The Boston Globe reports:

Mental drills found not to help seniors with future tasks

A minimum of 10 hours of mental exercises helped healthy seniors score better on tests five years later, but the drills showed little carry-over to everyday life, according to the largest and longest test of brain training.

Researchers had hoped to show that simple paper-and-pencil and computer drills would help keep seniors physically independent as they aged. But the training did not help most seniors perform everyday tasks such as shopping and managing money better than those who received no training, the research found.

The Washington Post reports:

Short Mental Workouts May Slow Decline of Aging Minds, Study Finds

Ten sessions of exercises to boost reasoning skills, memory and mental processing speed staved off mental decline in middle-aged and elderly people in the first definitive study to show that honing intellectual skills can bolster the mind in the same way that physical exercise protects and strengthens the body.

The researchers also showed that the benefits of the brain exercises extended well beyond the specific skills the volunteers learned. Older adults who did the basic exercises followed by later sessions were three times as fast as those who got only the initial sessions when it came to activities of daily living, such as reacting to a road sign, looking up a number in a telephone book or checking the ingredients on a medicine bottle -- abilities that can spell the difference between living independently and needing help.

The Houston Chronicle reports: 

Exercising brain aids seniors, study says

Just as exercise strengthens the body, a new study has found for the first time that brain exercise strengthens the ability of seniors to think more clearly and perform everyday tasks needed to continue to live independently.

Healthy seniors who had just 10 hours of classes to improve their reasoning powers reported having significantly less trouble than others with cooking, shopping and other activities, the study showed — and the benefits were still present five years later.

The study, in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, holds out hope that simple classes for the public could have powerful effects on seniors' lives, said Sally Schumaker, a professor of public health at Wake Forest University.


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