Apr 18, 2017 11:11 AM EDT
A team of Florida State University researchers published in the journal "Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience" that brain games do not preserve one's cognitive function. Neil Charness, a renowned professor of psychology, teamed up with Wally Boot, an associate teacher and a graduate student at Dustin Souders to test the theory.
In the study, the experts set up one group of people to play a particularly designed brain-training video game dubbed as the "Mind Frontiers". A second group was formed to solve crossword games and number puzzles. Do note that these players were given a lot of information needed to crack solutions for the activities.
Per Medical Daily, a total of 60 random people aged 65 and older took part in the study. The games were presented via tablet computers and the sessions lasted for about 30 to 45 minutes over the course of a month. Now, the researchers have tested whether the intellectual activities enhanced the player's working memories. They even tried to measure the improvements in other mental abilities like reasoning and data processing speed.
Foremost, the idea behind many brain games is that they improve one's "overall memory". Unfortunately, the findings revealed otherwise. The Florida State University research says there is little to no evidence of "far transfer". This means that improved memory via brain training did not translate to better performance on other tasks.
According to Science Daily, the brain-training industry has now turned into a billion-dollar business. In fact, brain games are available online for about $15 a month to $300 a lifetime. In order to attract customers, a lot of companies use misleading information. Awkwardly, these "exaggerated" claims are now disproven.
While mental exercises can truly yield short-term results, Charness reveals that aerobic exercises could actually lead to beneficial structural changes in the brain. He added that the combination of exercise and brain training could potentially induce significant impacts on preventing memory loss. For one, physical activities affect the health of the brain through growing new blood vessels and reducing insulin resistance.
In 2016, a different study actually proved that "sustained regular" exercise slows down the biological changes that lead to dementia. In it, a 45-minute exercise done four times a week over six months resulted to the improved memories of mental patients.
On the other hand, learning how to play musical instruments is a good way to boost people's overall cognitive functions too. Early brain scans show that the corpus callosum (a large bundle of nerve fibers that connect the two parts of the brain) is larger in musicians. It is believed that musical training can enhance one's literacy skills and spatial reasoning.
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