A BRAIN TRAINING EXERCISE THAT REDUCES THE RISK OF DEVELOPING DEMENTIA BY 29%
Brain exercises are very useful in preventing cognitive decline related to age. They are very practical and easy to integrate into everyday life, whether to develop your memory , your concentration, work your logic, your vocabulary or even improve your visuospatial perception and ability.
Researchers against aginghave identified, for the first time, a form of mental exercise that can reduce the risk of dementia . This cognitive training showed benefits up to 10 years after the study participants underwent the mental exercise program.
The results of the study of this computer-based cognitive training program were published in November 2017 in the journal Alzheimer & Dementia Translational Research and Clinical Interventions .
IDENTIFICATION OF THE FIRST BRAIN TRAINING EXERCISE POSITIVELY RELATED TO THE PREVENTION OF DEMENTIA
Retirees can reduce their risk of dementia by almost a third by playing a brain training game similar to a hazard perception test during a driving exercise. Trial participants improved their thinking and attention skills by using a specialized program that reduced their risk of dementia by 29%.
The more they used the training program, the lower their chances of developing the dementia condition. The US scientists behind these trials said that brain training is the first intervention of its kind to show a significant reduction in the risk of dementia in older adults, although the results have been cautiously welcomed by the research community who say that there is still work to prove the intervention.
The training exercise used involves training participants in a very specific task to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention. The researchers found that those who received training with this exercise received more protection. The task involves the user identifying an object such as a truck in the center of the gaze while locating a target in the periphery such as a car. As the user succeeds, the speed of presentation becomes progressively faster as the targets become more and more similar. In the most difficult training tasks, the target in the periphery is obscured by annoying objects, attracting selective attention.
EXERCISE OVER 10 YEARS OF FOLLOW-UP
The trial involved the follow-up of 2,802 healthy elderly people, for 10 years, with an average age of 74 years at 6 sites across the United States. They received either instructions on memory strategies, instructions on reasoning strategies, or computerized one-on-one training on the speed of treatment. All received 10 initial training sessions of 60-75 minutes per session during the first six weeks of the study.
There were measurable benefits even though the amount of training was small and spread out over time: 10 one hour sessions over six weeks initially and up to 8 reminder sessions thereafter. Researchers consider this a relatively low dose of training. But this low-intensity intervention demonstrates impressive durability, say researchers at the University of South Florida , Pennsylvania State University, and modernabiotechnology company Moderna Therapeutics . They examined healthy adults 65 years of age and older from multiple sites and randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups:
- Participants who have received instructions and practice in strategies to improve the memory of life events and activities.
- Participants who have received instruction and practice in strategies to assist with problem solving and related issues.
- Participants who received computerized rapid-treatment exercises – exercises designed to increase the amount and complexity of information they could process quickly.
- A control group whose members did not participate in any cognitive training program.
The initial training consisted of 10 sessions lasting approximately one hour, spread over a period of five to six weeks. A subset of participants who completed at least 80% of the first training session was eligible to receive a booster training, which consisted of four sessions of 60 to 75 minutes between 11 months and 35 months after the initial training. Participants were evaluated immediately after the training and at one, two, three, five and ten years after the training.
After attrition due to death and other factors, 1,220 participants completed the 10-year follow-up assessment. During this time, 260 participants developed dementia. The risk of developing dementia was 29% lower in fast-course participants than in the control group, a statistically significant difference. In addition, the benefits of training were stronger for those who followed a recall training. Although memory and reasoning training also showed benefits in reducing the risk of dementia, the results were not statistically significant.
Finally, the researchers point out that the speed of treatment training used computerized “adaptive training” software with touch screens. Participants were asked to identify the objects in the center of the screen, while identifying the location of objects appearing briefly in the periphery. The software would adjust in real time the speed and difficulty of the exercises depending on the performance of the participants.
In contrast, memory and reasoning programs used more traditional teaching and practice techniques, as could occur in the classroom. Previous studies have shown that cognitive training ACTIVE ( Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly ) improved cognitive abilities of the participants and the ease of engaging in daily life activities five and ten years after the initial training. However, a review of the role of ACTIVE cognitive training on the incidence of dementia was not significant after five years of follow-up. The results of this new study are therefore promising for developing new prevention strategies for neurodegenerative disorders and diseases.