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    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of rare dementias. It will be hosted by Nikki and Seb from Rare Dementia Support. If you have any questions about rare dementias, they will be here to answer them on Tuesday 3 March between 3-4pm.

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Brain training: the science behind the headlines

HarrietD

Administrator
Staff member
Apr 29, 2014
5,203
London
Brain training includes a wide variety of activities that are designed to challenge the brain, ranging from crosswords and Sudoku puzzles to bespoke computer games. Many people engage in brain training in the hope that keeping their brains active will maintain or improve their cognitive abilities as they get older.

Dr Clare Walton, Alzheimer's Society Research Communications Manager, explains more about the research behind brain training and memory and thinking abilities:

 

fizzie

Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
2,732
my mum too always challenged herself. All her life she did lots of mental activity, was always interested in anything new. Took a fine arts degree at 70. Never a dull moment. She began to lose her memory late but I also think she was unlucky. I'm not convinced about brain training or any of those types of activities making any difference.
 

LadyA

Registered User
Oct 19, 2009
13,562
Ireland
My late husband was very mentally active- his consultant said his "starting IQ" (ie when he got dementia) was just about off the scale. He spoke several languages, wrote for a living for a while, taught for a while at college level, had several degrees, did art. and had an immense interest in absolutely everything! Fell down badly on the physical activity side though - wouldn't walk to save his life!
Personally, I think keeping the brain active may help - and William's consultant did say that his intellectual level and his educational level helped to stave off the EFFECTS of the dementia for probably years. The way he put it was, it's like driving along and finding the road in front of you has caved in so you have to detour. The more active your brain is, the more "neural pathways " it builds, so as the person keeps coming up against "road blocks" -damage from dementia - say they have lost the right words for something - they have a greater number of pathways to use to detour around the damage. So the dementia can go unnoticed for years. Eventually though, the damage becomes too great, there are no more detours to take, and then it looks like a very sudden deterioration. That's how William's illness went. I knew he had dementia. The doctors knew he had it. But he was still scoring very high on the tests until he was in the late middle stages of the disease.
 

fizzie

Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
2,732
What a bloomin star, I would love to have met her x
 
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Grey Lad

Registered User
Sep 12, 2014
5,736
North East Lincs
My late husband was very mentally active- his consultant said his "starting IQ" (ie when he got dementia) was just about off the scale. He spoke several languages, wrote for a living for a while, taught for a while at college level, had several degrees, did art. and had an immense interest in absolutely everything! Fell down badly on the physical activity side though - wouldn't walk to save his life!
Personally, I think keeping the brain active may help - and William's consultant did say that his intellectual level and his educational level helped to stave off the EFFECTS of the dementia for probably years. The way he put it was, it's like driving along and finding the road in front of you has caved in so you have to detour. The more active your brain is, the more "neural pathways " it builds, so as the person keeps coming up against "road blocks" -damage from dementia - say they have lost the right words for something - they have a greater number of pathways to use to detour around the damage. So the dementia can go unnoticed for years. Eventually though, the damage becomes too great, there are no more detours to take, and then it looks like a very sudden deterioration. That's how William's illness went. I knew he had dementia. The doctors knew he had it. But he was still scoring very high on the tests until he was in the late middle stages of the disease.
I have been reading about neuroplasticity lately and it ceratinly gives me food for thought. Maureen's brain has been damaged by stroke she and has a diagnosis of dementia but I have seen that she still has capacity to learn. It's just a question of picking the right time and method. I'm trying to teach her to find her way safely to the corner shop and I am confident that if I am patient she will eventually learn to do it. That will help her to see that she is not a prisoner and that she can go out on her own for short distances.
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
8,540
Yorkshire
Not sure what I think about brain training really - open mind

I've joined up to the study and to do the training, Roses40
and part of me is now wondering what I've let myself in for - but I will persevere in the hope that the data they collect will be of use in combatting this dementia demon we all deal with
I found the 1st assessment (to be done 3 times) challenging, scared myself a bit really - did wonder if it was doing the tasks on line that spooked me as more of a pencil and paper girl, really - the timer I did NOT like, nor the big red cross (not sure I needed to be told I was wrong in such terms
but turn off the sound for the training tasks and I'm much happier
I know they will have lots of participants but feel I would like the chance to feed back about how I react to the tasks - maybe that will come at some point

Just realised this could sound off-putting - but I really would encourage anyone to have a go - just think I was not expecting my own reaction to using the laptop for the quizzes - quite different from sitting with a quiz book and pencil - but I think that's part of the point

I'll stop waffling now
 

Cat27

Volunteer Moderator
Feb 27, 2015
10,669
Merseyside
Not sure what I think about brain training really - open mind

I've joined up to the study and to do the training, Roses40
and part of me is now wondering what I've let myself in for - but I will persevere in the hope that the data they collect will be of use in combatting this dementia demon we all deal with
I found the 1st assessment (to be done 3 times) challenging, scared myself a bit really - did wonder if it was doing the tasks on line that spooked me as more of a pencil and paper girl, really - the timer I did NOT like, nor the big red cross (not sure I needed to be told I was wrong in such terms
but turn off the sound for the training tasks and I'm much happier
I know they will have lots of participants but feel I would like the chance to feed back about how I react to the tasks - maybe that will come at some point

Just realised this could sound off-putting - but I really would encourage anyone to have a go - just think I was not expecting my own reaction to using the laptop for the quizzes - quite different from sitting with a quiz book and pencil - but I think that's part of the point

I'll stop waffling now
I think I'm being very thick but where do I sign up to the study?:confused: