Study: training the brain affects loss of memory
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By Julie Ann Anderson  April 11, 2014 12:00 am

For years, scientists have been conducting studies indicating brain training exercises can help slow down normal memory loss and cognitive function decline in typical aging adults. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on Jan. 13, 2014 suggests that even a small amount of this training can have a significant impact. The study drew subjects from what would be considered the typical aging adult population, and so its findings cannot be applied to those with disorders such as Alzheimer's. 

However, it is hoped that future studies can determine how such training may impact those with various forms of dementia.


About the study

The study looked at more than 2,800 adults with an average age of 73.6 years. The adults were divided into four groups. 

One group received a series of sessions focusing on memory training. A second group received sessions on reasoning training, and a third on speed-of-processing training. 

The fourth group was the control group and received no training. In the first three groups, each individual received 10 sessions that each ranged from 60 to 75 minutes. 

The sessions were spread out over five-six weeks.


Session’s results

The training occurred 10 years ago. This study has followed the subjects and reports that overall, the subjects in the three groups that received training reported “less difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living” and that about 60 percent of them “were at or above their starting level of function,” compared to 50 percent of the control group.

The gains in memory performance did not last the full 10 years; however, at the five-year mark, there was still a significant difference between the memory-trained group and the control group.

Still, the fact there was a five-year difference from what amounts to only 10-12.5 hours of training is promising. It makes one wonder what might happen if the training were expanded to more hours, or if follow-up training were conducted on a regular basis.

It’s also significant that the reasoning and speed-of-processing training continued to produce benefits for the full 10 years.

There are so many ways out there to train the brain. There are crossword puzzles, jig saw puzzles, reading, learning a new language or learning to play an instrument to name a few of the traditional ways. In today’s culture there are even more engaging ways on the iPad or computer for one, luminosity is a fabulous resource.  

It was created to challenge your brain with scientifically designed training that can be personalized to you. 

It can train memory and increase attention. There are so many games on even your smart phone which train the brain. 

Simply stated, any time you are learning something new, you are training your brain. Once engaged, however you decide to challenge yourself you will find it’s better for brain health.

Developing brain-training routines that can have a long-term impact on memory loss and cognitive decline for the growing population of seniors is a goal worth pursuing.


Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.

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