Older adults can improve memory and attention by utilizing computerized brain exercises, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Chicago. Elizabeth Zelinski, Ph.D., the lead investigator on the study and a professor at the University of Southern California, also reported on new data showing that these memory and attention gains persist for months after the training ends.
A total of 487 healthy adults older than 65 participated in the study. Half were assigned to a group that utilized a brain fitness software program for 40 hours a week for eight weeks. The other half spent an equal amount of time attending lectures via computer and answering quizzes.
The study found that participants who trained on the software, the Brain Fitness Program from Posit Science, more than doubled their processing speed, with an average increase of 131%.
The study also showed that the non-control group showed gains on standard measures of memory and attention for 10 years, on average. These changes were big enough that participants reported significant improvements in everyday activities, such as remembering names or understanding conversations in noisy restaurants. The gains of the brain exercise group were clinically significant; the gains of the lecture group were significantly smaller and not clinically significant.