Home Science/Health Exercise your brain, improve memory

Exercise your brain, improve memory


New York : Mental exercises of the right kind will help enhance memory as you grow older, says a new study.

The study, by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Andrus Gerontology Centre, found that older adults who underwent a “brain fitness programme” also saw an improvement in other cognitive abilities.

Findings of the study were presented Monday at the annual meeting of The Gerontological Society of America.

The study, the largest ever done on aging and cognitive training, worked with 524 healthy adults of 65 and over.

Half the group was put through 40 hours of the computer-based Posit Science Brain Fitness Programme, a publicly available programme in the US.

The other half, who followed the traditional advice that older adults benefit from new learning, completed 40 hours of a computer-based educational training program.

The researchers, led by Elizabeth Zelinski, found that the group that did the Posit Science programme showed significantly superior memory gains.

They also showed significant improvements in how they perceived their memory and cognitive abilities.

This included questions about everyday tasks such as remembering names and phone numbers or where they had left their keys — as well as communication abilities and feelings of self-confidence.

“The changes we saw in the experimental group were remarkable — and significantly larger than the gains in the control group,” Zelinski said.

“My memory improved after I participated in the study,” said Marlene Allen of California, a study participant. “I also felt better and a lot more energised. I really had fun doing the training.”

John Smith, a semi-retired dentist, said that he functions well at work and gives the programme credit for his interactions there. “I’m quicker to respond to questions and my memory is better.”

“We presented these important results at the Annual Meeting of GSA, because aging experts need to spread the word that cognitive decline is not an inevitable part of aging,” said Zelinski.

“Doing the properly designed cognitive activities can actually enhance abilities as you age.”