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Brain training is a hotly disputed topic in science as to whether it is effective or not. I thought it was worth sharing this interesting landmark study from PositScience about a landmark study demonstrating the benefits of 10 hours of brain training lasting 10 years later which affirms that there are long-term brain benefits to brain training.
Details of the study:
- Study size: 2,832 people over the age of 65 (largest study on cognitive training performed to date)
- Four groups:
- memory training group
- reasoning training group
- speed-of-processing group (this group trained on a brain game from BrainHQ called “Double Decision“)
- no-training control group
- Training groups received 10 training sessions for memory, reasoning, or speed of processing; four sessions of booster training 11 and 35 months after initial training.
- 10 years later, the participants were retested and found that:
- a significant proportion of groups 2 and 3 retained improvements
- interestingly, those in group 1 did not retain improvements indicating that not all brain training is created equal as specific types of exercises are more effective than others
- participants in all three of the training groups also reported a better ability to perform everyday tasks—such as shopping and handling finances—compared to those in the no-training control, in other words, brain training preserves cognitive function and can potentially delay dementia and/or slow its progress
Unfortunately, there were no details provided regarding the type of training groups 1 and 2 received. Group 3 – the speed-of-processing group – received a type of training from the BrainHQ program called Double Decision. This brain training game is intended to train your “useful field of view”.
What is “useful field of view”?
Imagine you’re driving down the street. Suddenly, a skateboarder comes out from the side and crosses right in front of you. Can you stop in time?
It depends, in part, on your “useful field of view.” Useful field of view is the area over which you can quickly and accurately see details when looking straight ahead. A smaller useful field of view means it takes longer for your brain to notice what’s in the periphery. A larger one means you can see more, and see it more quickly. The size of your useful field of view might make the difference between hitting the skateboarder and stopping before you do.
For the average adult, useful field of view begins to shrink with age. Certain clinical problems can also shrink useful field of view.
In this brain game, you will be shown a central car that will appear briefly at the center of the screen. At the same time, a route sign will appear on the periphery. After they disappear, you are required to identify the central car that you saw from one of two cars and select the portion of the screen where you saw the route sign appear. As you progress, the difficulty increases:
- At first, the road sign is alone in the periphery, but over time, distractors (wrong answers) appear too.
- The road sign moves from closer to the center to farther out.
- The central cars get more similar, making it more difficult to choose the right one.
- The backgrounds get more complicated, making it harder to spot subtle differences in the cars and road signs.
Double Decision is available on the BrainHQ app. You can also try it on the BrainHQ site.
BrainHQ is a brain training program clinically proven to improve brain function, from the most basic elements of perception through the most complex elements of memory, thinking, and decision-making.
BrainHQ’s exercises have been tested in large-scale randomized clinical trials by researchers from leading institutions, including the Mayo Clinic, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 60 publications have documented statistically and clinically significant results with the exercises in BrainHQ, including:
- Improves memory by 10 years of function
- Increases processing speed by over 130%
- Reduces the risk of decline in health-related quality of life and mood by over 30%
- Sharpens attention, improves reaction time, and reduces risk of driving accidents by 50%
BrainHQ delivers brain benefits in a way that’s easy to learn and fun to do. It is designed to help you set and achieve your brain training goals.
- Exercises are organized into “challenges”—short courses that target specific brain processes and real-world benefits. Pick the challenges for the cognitive areas important for your life.
- Each exercise adapts to your performance and gets more challenging as your performance improves, just like a personal trainer for your brain.
- The training is designed to fit into your life. Train for just 5 minutes in your spare time, or do a complete workout in an hour.
BrainHQ is available here:
Both versions offer free trials for some of the brain training games.
More details about the study
- Posit Science press release: “Landmark Study Shows Benefits of BrainHQ Training Last 10 Years”
- Chicago Tribune article: “Brain training helped older adults stay sharp for years: study”
- Study abstract: “Ten-Year Effects of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Cognitive Training Trial on Cognition and Everyday Functioning in Older Adults”
- Exercise description for speed-of-processing group: Double Decision
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