A recently published meta-analysis by a research group led by Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela from the University of Sydney provides for the first time clear evidence, that cognitive training shows effects in people at risk to suffer from dementia.
The researchers analyzed outcomes of 17 studies that assessed the effects of computerized brain training in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. MCI is a clinical diagnosis of cognitive impairments that exceed normal age-related decline. While MCI patients show impaired cognitive performance as compared with their peers, the symptoms do not fulfill the criteria for a dementia diagnosis.
MCI patients are, however, at higher risk of developing dementia than clinically healthy older adults. For this reason, it is of great importance to explore possibilities to delay or even inhibit the progression of MCI to dementia.
Brain Training can improve cognitive performance
The new meta-analysis shows that cognitive training can improve cognitive performance of MCI-patients in several domains, including verbal memory, attention, working memory, and learning. Training also alleviated symptoms related to psychosocial functioning, such as depression. However, after the onset of dementia, cognitive training interventions have – at least yet – provided no evidence of effectively alleviating symptoms or improving cognition.
Computerized cognitive training interventions could therefore provide a method of delaying or even inhibiting the onset of dementia. Importantly, there is now convincing evidence on the potential of brain training interventions in targeting pathological cognitive decline at older age.
NeuroNation in the fight against dementia
NeuroNation is currently collaborating with the team of A/Prof. Valenzuela in a research project investigating the effects of computerized brain training and further lifestyle interventions on the prevention of dementia.
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 Hill, N. T. M. et al. Computerized cognitive training in older adults with mild cognitive impairment or dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry Nov 14, (2016).