Computer-based brain training can keep dementia at bay

Among the older adults affected by mild cognitive impairment, computer-based training is capable of improving mood and memory. Mild cognitive impairment implies a decline in memory and various types of thinking skills, and it is one of the greatest risk factors for dementia. Through brain training, memory and thinking skills can be improved by practising mentally tough computer-based exercises, which have interfaces similar to video games.
It is said that people with mild cognitive impairment have a 1-in-10 risk of developing dementia. However, this risk is significantly higher among those suffering from depression. Despite the decline in memory and other kinds of thinking skills, daily living skills generally remain intact.

Importance of early diagnosis

Computer-based training is suitable only for those before the diagnosis of dementia. Once this diagnosis has been made, it cannot prevent the onset of the disease. Therefore, it is important to start computerised brain training at the right age.

How does brain training help?

Through 20 years of research, it has been observed that brain training is suitable for a number of reasons. Improvements in memory, learning and attention, global cognition and psychosocial functioning among people with low levels of cognitive impairment were visible. Brain training is also useful for elder adults who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

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Clinical research being done

A wide range of analyses has been done on the effect of computerised brain training on the elderly. Due to the improvements were seen in memory, global cognition, learning and other parameters, necessary evidence has been accumulated for pursuing the clinical implementation of brain training. It is clear that this training is highly effective in the aged care sector, while there also is constant research on how to improve training effectiveness.
Other than the use of computer-based brain training, there are several lifestyle factors as well which could prevent the onset of dementia. Regular socialising with friends and greater levels of education are two such factors.

Diet also determines cognitive performance 
Studies have shown that diets make a significant difference to overall cognitive performance. Older people who closely follow a diet with red meat, potatoes, sugary foods and white bread are less likely to develop dementia.

Response to brain training

Different peoples’ brains respond in a different manner. On the same lines, it is natural that not all will have the same response to computer-based brain training. There are different target populations who may not always respond in exactly the same way to interventions due to brain training.
Positive mental improvement due to brain training can be seen only on a select group of people who are suffering from a particular brain problem. In other words, computerised brain training does have its limitations.
So what can really be done? The rate at which populations are moving towards Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is quite alarming indeed. The elderly need to make conscious efforts to exercise their brain more. This can be done through simple everyday calculations like addition and subtraction daily. They should also train their brains to make lesser use of gadgets to remember things. Of course, computer-based brain training is always available for increasing the speed of visual processing.