Study shows brain training helps older adults

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A recent study concluded that playing online games gave a memory boost and enhanced reasoning skills for older people.

King’s College London researchers found brain training by mental exercises kept minds sharp and helped people with everyday skills such as cooking and shopping. About 7,000 people aged 50 plus signed up for the six-month experience launched by BBC TV’s Bang Goes The Theory.

Volunteers were asked to play online “brain training” games for an average of 10 minutes at a time, as often as possible, whilst a different group of people were asked to do simple internet searches. Researchers tested volunteers at the start and then again at three months and six months. Those who played the brain training games had improved their broader cognitive skills within six months compared to those who did not. The training is beneficial when people played the games for at least five times a week. People aged over 60 reported better scores for everyday skills.

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Volunteers for the study were recruited from the general public by a partnership between the BBC, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Medical Research Council. Dr Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “Online brain training is rapidly growing into a multi-million pound industry and studies like this are vital to help us understand what these games can and cannot do.”

He added: “while this study wasn’t long enough to test whether the brain training package can prevent cognitive decline or dementia, we’re excited to see that it can have a positive impact on how well older people perform essential everyday tasks.”

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