Feeling Sluggish? Scientists Say A Little Mental Training Goes A Long Way

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Training your brain does pay dividends.

Scientists have found that mental exercise brings benefits for older people even years later.

As few as 10 brief mental training sessions had a beneficial effect on the cognition of older adults up to a decade afterwards, the US researchers say

They showed improvements in reasoning ability and speed-of-processing.

These gains were even greater for those who got additional “booster” sessions over the next three years.

Older adults who received brief cognitive training also reported that they had less difficulty in performing important everyday tasks.

The findings, based on a study of 2,832 people with an average age of 73.6 years at the start of the study, are published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“Showing that training gains are maintained for up to 10 years is a stunning result because it suggests that a fairly modest intervention in practicing mental skills can have relatively long-term effects beyond what we might reasonably expect,” said lead author Dr George Rebok of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

For the study, three groups were formed:

Those in the memory training group were taught strategies for remembering word lists and sequences of items, text material, and the main ideas and details of stories.

Participants in the reasoning group received instruction on how to solve problems that follow patterns, which is useful for tasks such as reading bus schedules or completing order forms.

Individuals who received speed-of-processing training participated in a computer-based program that focused on the ability to identify and locate visual information quickly, which is useful when looking up phone numbers or reacting to changes in traffic when driving.

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