Brain training has lasting benefit

The Boston Globe reports on a “first-of-its kind study” that finds positive effects to “brain training drills” lasting up to ten years. The study analyzed data from “roughly 2,800 participants” who were given sessions of brain training, 74% of whom showed continuing improvement at the decade mark.

As baby boomers search for ways to stay mentally sharp, the popularity of brain games has soared in recent years, but researchers have decried a lack of rigorous evidence showing these interventions are effective in the long term.

Most brain games on the market involve computer exercises. But in the new study, researchers used paper-and-pencil tests that honed problem-solving involving letter and number patterns, in addition to computer drills that tested the ability to quickly distinguish an image among a constantly changing screen.Just one computer drill used in the study is on the market, and it has been altered from the version used by researchers.

Scientists not involved with the study called it unique and provocative, and said it unquestionably shows that older adults who receive brain training are able to maintain those skills over the long term.

The federally funded study appeared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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