How to maximize cognitive function: brain training works best in group settings

Brain Training to Keep Dementia at Bay: Buyer Beware

Deborah Brauser

November 21, 2014

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Growing evidence suggests brain training may help maintain cognition and lower dementia risk, resulting in the rise of a billion dollar brain training industry. However, new research examining the efficacy of such programs suggests not all are created equal and that it may be a case of buyer beware.

A meta-analysis of 51 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that included more than 4800 older participants showed that group-based brain training under the supervision of a trainer was significantly more effective for overall cognition, memory, and processing speed than self-directed, home-based training programs.

“Our results send a key message to the public. They show that brain training carried out in a center can improve cognition in older adults, but commercial products promoted for solo training use at home just don’t work. There are better ways to spend your time and money,” senior author Michael Valenzuala, PhD, associate professor and leader of the Regenerative Neuroscience Group at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) at the University of Sydney, Australia, said in a release.