Many seniors hope that doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles or using brain training programs on the computer will keep their minds functioning well and prevent dementia.
Using the Computer to Bolster the Brain:
Scientists have questioned this idea, but a meta-analysis of 50 studies using speed of processing training found that people using this type of brain training reduce their risk of dementia. This type of training is also called useful field of view training. It teaches people to pay attention both to the center of the screen and the periphery.
How Well Did Speed of Processing Training Work?
Participants in the studies testing speed of processing software were 48 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia over the course of 10 years if they completed at least 11 training sessions. The chance of dementia dropped by about 8 percent for each session completed.
This training is designed to improve speed and accuracy of visual attention. It appears to improve driving performance as well, since that also requires attention across a field of vision.
ACTIVE Brain Training:
2,832 volunteers between 65 and 94 years old participated in the ACTIVE study (which stands for Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly). Those who completed the brain training improved their cognitive ability, especially attention; mood; ability to function in daily life; and driving. Based on these findings, older people might want to seek out this specific type of brain training. It is available commercially from BrainHQ.com
American Psychological Association meeting, Aug 4, 2016, Denver, CO