New study gives us the strongest evidence yet for the power of brain training to reduce the risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Much has been said about the potential of brain training, such as computer based games to exercise the mind, to reduce the risk of dementia related illness in seniors. Brain training can be related to things such as education, social engagement and new learning, and can be a great help to older people.

computer brain training for seniors

There has been a lot of talk lately about the role that brain training can play in lowering the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have looked at factors like education, social engagement, and the amount of new learning that older people do as possible things that may help.

Now with research led by Jerri Edwards, from the University of South Florida, we see new evidence that a “speed-processing-based” training program can indeed lower rates of cognitive decline and dementia.

New study on preventing Alzheimer’s disease is most rigorous to date

This latest study involved nearly 3,000 healthy older people who were randomly assigned to take a five week classroom-based training that involved improving their processing speed, improving their memory skills, or improving their reasoning skills. The study participants were followed over 10 years. The purpose of the computer-based “speed-processing” training was to help people take in and process information on the screen faster. The researchers manipulated how much time the people had to process the material.

Speed-processing may be the key

At the end of the study, only those assigned to the speed-processing training showed a 33% reduction in the amount of dementia or cognitive impairment after 10 years compared to those who received the memory or reasoning training.

“I think everyone over 50 should start doing it,” says Edwards. “There’s a preponderance of evidence that this type of training has multiple benefits and the risk is minimal, and it’s not even expensive.”

The type of training used is available online in a commercial program by Brain HQ called the Double Decision Exercise (which licensed the training from the researchers who created it).

Edwards hopes to continue to the benefits of brain training in future trials, to learn more about how often people should be taking advantage of the training and how durable and lasting the effects can be. Many people agree that we should all work to keep our brains sharp and fit through use. Like any muscle, our brains can only benefit from regular training and exercise.

Results of this Brain Training study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting.