Brain Training Games May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
Researchers at King’s College London have found that online brain training games are beneficial for older people. Findings from their large-scale study showed that the games may help to delay or prevent cognitive decline, as they give memory and reasoning skills a workout.
The study involved almost 7,000 participants over the age of 50 and took place over a period of six months. Volunteers were recruited from the general population by a partnership between the BBC, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Medical Research Council.
The participants were split into two groups – one group was encouraged to play online brain training games for ten minutes at a time, while the other was asked to do simple internet searches. All participants completed medically recognised cognitive tests both at the beginning and end of the study.
Findings showed that those who played the brain training games kept their broader cognitive skills better than those who did not. They also showed that over-60s who played these games had significant improvements in carrying out essential everyday tasks.
Interestingly, the researchers had already found in a previous study that people under the age of 50 do not reap the same benefits from online brain training games.
“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,” says Dr Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society. “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.”
A longer trial is now being started at King’s College’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience to establish whether the games could help to prevent the development of dementia.