- Computer brain games can help elderly perform better at everyday tasks
- Firms selling the gadgets and games consoles say they boost memory
- British research suggests brain exercises may delay onset of dementia
By Ben Spencer, Medical Correspondent For The Daily Mail
Published: 19:58 EST, 2 November 2015 | Updated: 20:05 EST, 2 November 2015
Computer brain games can help the elderly perform significantly better at everyday tasks, scientists have found.
Firms selling the handheld gadgets and games consoles say they boost memory and thinking power.
And the British research backs this claim, even suggesting that the brain exercises may delay the onset of dementia – although much more evidence would be needed to confirm this link.
Can your mind tackle the test? Computer brain games can help the elderly perform better at everyday tasks, scientists have found
People who played the games five times a week for six months got better at navigating public transport, shopping, cooking and money management.
Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society and involving 7,000 over-50s, the King’s College London study is the largest randomised trial to date of an online brain training package.
The package comprised three reasoning tasks, such as balancing weights on a seesaw, and three problem-solving tasks, such as putting numbered tiles in order.
Participants were encouraged to play the game for ten minutes at a time, as often as they wished. Those over 60 were also assessed on a test of daily living.
According to the results, published today in the JAMDA medical journal, the programme led to significant improvements after six months in scores on the test of daily living in people over 60, and significant improvement in reasoning and verbal learning in those over 50.
People who played the games five times a week for six months got better at navigating public transport, shopping, cooking and money management
Dr Anne Corbett of the KCL institute of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience, said: ‘Our research adds to growing evidence that lifestyle interventions may provide a more realistic opportunity to maintain cognitive function, and potentially reduce the risk of cognitive decline later in life.’
Dr Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘With a rapidly ageing population, evidence that this type of brain training has a tangible, real-life benefit on cognitive function is truly significant.’
The research team is now launching a much larger open trial to see how well older people engage with the technology over the long term.
Studies have shown that people who have complex jobs or do crosswords and puzzles tend to have lower rates of dementia.