We all have our techniques for trying to stay young, fit, and healthy. Exercising, eating right, and staying socially active are good for your well-being at any age.
But what about staying mentally sharp?
What are you doing to keep your brain as young, fit, and healthy as your body?
Delaying Cognitive Decline for Aging Seniors
Most of us know that to keep the brain sharp, we have to use it often. Crossword puzzles, however, may not be enough. If you’re bent on forestalling mental decline, you might want to schedule some specialized training into your day – speed training, to be exact.
For what’s been dubbed the ‘ACTIVE’ (Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly) study, scientists followed nearly three thousand seniors for a full decade and studied the effects of various types of brain training:
- instruction in memory-boosting techniques
- classroom-based training emphasizing reasoning skills
- computer-based training to speed up mental processing
With one group serving as a control (they received no brain training at all), researchers had participants undergo 10 hours of training for five weeks. Then, the training was repeated for half of each group at two more intervals: 11 months and then 35 months into the study.
The Ten-Year Study Produced Some Surprising Results
By the time the study came to a close, many of the seniors in the study had dementia. At an average of 74 years old when the study began, more than 300 of them met the criteria for real dementia ten years later.
But there were clear differences among the different test groups, as announced at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July 2016.
Incredibly, only those who had taken the speed-of-processing training were significantly less apt to show signs of dementia. Memory-boosting sessions and the reasoning skills exercises did little more to improve participants’ odds than nothing at all. Their rates of neurodegenerative disease were only slightly better than those of the control group, who received no brain training at all.
It’s interesting to note that just five weeks of speed training had long-lasting results. Although refresher courses during year one and year two helped, just five weeks of training at the beginning of the study was enough to produce a positive effect that lasted the full ten years.
What is ‘Speed-of-Processing-Training’ and Where Can I Enroll?
You can set aside your Sudoko books for now. Speed-of-processing training requires you to be a little technically savvy. It’s computer-based, and features programs that flash images on the screen for the briefest of moments.
One image is at the center of the screen and the other image is off to one side.
You see them for just a split second, then you’re prompted to recall what you saw (or what you think you saw). Did you see a tiny helicopter or a huge commercial aircraft carrier?
And the training is adaptive: the better you get at identifying what you saw, the briefer the images flash on the screen. The images you’re asked to discern between also become more visually similar.
Finally, the background to the images becomes increasingly distracting. Like a virtual mind coach, the program goads users to get faster and better with each iteration of the test.
If you’d like to see for yourself what speed-of-processing training looks like, you can watch a free demo. It’s called ‘Double Decision’ and it was created by Posit Science Corp.
3rd Act Brings You the Latest News & Trends
At 3rd Act magazine, we’re always interested in the latest news and trends concerning topics that matter to our readers. Want to know more about brain health and aging seniors? Here’s another great article on keeping your brain active.