Do brain training exercises really work?
Brain Training exercises in an attempt to prevent or slow cognitive decline is a debated matter. Whilst the ‘use it or loose it’ adage may hold some weight research is showing there is little evidence to prove that this is the case.Prof Snyder, of Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, said: “Brain ageing products sold today can be a financial drain, decrease participation in more proven effective lifestyle interventions, like exercise.”
He added that they could also give false hope to the “worried well” about the chances of holding back the onset of mental decline.
Some products have actually been marketed as weapons in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, he said, but there is little real proof of this.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said one million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years so there is a desperate need to find ways to prevent dementia.
The popularity of the games, which can be played on hand-held consoles by firms such as Nintendo, are also unlikely to help keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
If healthy older users neglect the proven benefits of physical exercise in favour of the games then they could be harming their health, according to a study commissioned by US health organisation Lifespan and published in the health journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
It found “no evidence… brain exercise programmes delay or slow progression of cognitive changes in healthy elderly.”
Researchers also concluded that more research was needed into the long-term impact of brain training games, which are advertised in high profile campaigns fronted by Nicole Kidman, Julie Walters and Patrick Stewart among others.
The study looked at trials undertaken since 1992 on the impact of brain exercises, known as cognitive training, on the elderly.