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Keep playing those mind games! A new study published in BMC Medicine reports that healthy, older adults who engage in cognitive training such as doing handicrafts, working on puzzles, and reading maps can improve their memory and other aspects of brain function, as well as hand-eye coordination skills.
Many articles have be written about how doing puzzles, reading, and performing other cognitive activities can help reduce the risk or slow down the progress of dementia among older adults. This research is especially critical as it is estimated there will be about 37 million people who suffer with dementia by the year 2050.
But are these brain exercises helpful for healthy older adults as well? This question was tackled by researchers who enrolled adults between 65 and 75 who were living independently. The volunteers participated in two hour-long training sessions per week for 12 weeks and also were assigned homework.
Compared with controls, who did not receive any training, the volunteers who underwent cognitive exercises experienced an improvement in memory and other mental skills. The authors concluded cognitive training may prevent mental decline among healthy older adults. Therefore, it is recommended that all older adults regularly participate in mind and brain stimulating activities.
Cheng Y et al. The effects of multi-domain versus single-domain cognitive training in non-demented older people: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Medicine 2012; 10:30