This particular technique could help to cut chances of older patients developing the disease by almost half.
Brain training may seem like it’s all the rage, particularly when it comes to staving off your risk of dementia, but scientists are keen to point out that some types of brain training are better than others.
Research presented at the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention has found speed processing, a specific type of brain training, to be effective at improving attention and improving the time and accuracy of someone’s mental ability.
Researchers, led by Dr Jerri Edwards from the University of South Florida, looked at three groups of study participants. One group received training for memory improvement, one for reasoning and one with computerised training in speed-of-processing.
Speed training involved the individuals being asked to identify objects on a screen quickly. The program got harder with each correct answer. Each participant had 10 hour-long sessions held over five weeks. Some received four additional “booster” sessions one year after the original training, and four more two years after that.
Cognitive abilities were measured at one, two, three, five and 10 years after the study started, and researchers found that those who completed the speed processing training experienced levels of improved attention.
They also had reduced symptoms of depression, a better functional performance and improved driving ability.
Dr Jerri Edwards said:
‘The mistake some people make is thinking that all brain training is the same.
‘Lumping all brain training together is like trying to determine the effectiveness of antibiotics by looking at the universe of all pills, and including sugar pills and dietary supplements in that analysis.’
‘Some brain training does work, but not all of it. People should seek out training backed by multiple peer-reviewed studies. The meta-analysis of this particular speed of processing training shows it can improve how people function in their everyday lives.’