Does 'Brain Training' Really Improve Cognition and Forestall Cognitive Decline?

leny connery

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Nov 13, 2022
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my OH was really brilliant at Sudoku, a voracious reader, very intelligent man. He still fell victim tot his disease
 

David Joseph

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Oct 20, 2023
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Hi Nitram,
Exercising the brain does help cognition, whether it is by playing chess, being creative in whatever way suits the individual (eg., artistic painting, writing prose or poetry, knitting, crafts of all kinds, etc.), jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles and some but not all so-called “brain games”, whether on paper or computer. Also, it has been shown by psychological research that education at whatever age, such as learning a foreign language or musical instrument, leads to good results. All of the above do no harm and can do a lot of positive things without any detrimental side effects. Whether or not it can delay progression, however, of pre-clinical cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s or other dementias, is another matter. Whatever, brain exercises are worth doing for their other more general beneficial psychological effects, enjoyment and positive morale. More good evidence should be forthcoming. There is much to be said about, also, about building up one’s cognitive reserves.
Thanks for asking such a good question,
Sincerely,
David Joseph
 

Neveradullday!

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Oct 12, 2022
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England
I've just had a brief look (not in the mood to read all of it 😏).
It does mention these cognitive trainings create new sinapses (connections?) in the brain. Neuroplasticity is a fact - London black cab drivers who learn 'the knowledge' do have a bigger hippocampus than normal.
The interesting question is, are these new synapses enough to keep dementia at bay? Do cognitive trainings just increase the synapses which the plaques can still attack?

Another member mentioned a nuns study a few weeks ago, some nuns had damaged brains but didn't develop AD anything like other nuns. I can't remember, but it may have been something to do with having an active brain. But as @leny connery says above, this made no difference in her husband's case.
 

SAP

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Feb 18, 2017
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My mum did the times crossword and was an avid reader . She could knit , walked every day, had friends and family near by and ate very well. She enjoyed a glass of wine now and again but didn’t smoke. I just think it is so indiscriminate.
 

David Joseph

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Oct 20, 2023
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David Joseph replies
Personally, I’ve known about, and used “brain training” exercises of all sorts, since 1985. They were helpful for all those years since, but at the age of 79 I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
However, one should not trust single case anecdotes. What would be needed to show if there is any benefit in “brain training”, such as in delaying the onset of dementia, would be a large scale prospective study over the long term, maybe 10 years, at a prohibitive cost even if spread over many cooperative countries. It would be difficult.
David Joseph
 

Lostinthisdesert

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Apr 21, 2023
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As David says the kind of trial required to answer the question is probably unfeasible. However, there is evidence that brain recovery happens after damage e.g after a stroke. The issue in dementia is progressive brain damage which occurs at different rates in different people. Repetitive brain injury of this sort does not give sufficient time for the brain to 'rewire'. Hence any treatment that could really slow down the damage progress so that recovery can occur should in theory make some degree of improvement in brain function possible.
 

nitram

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Apr 6, 2011
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Bury
What would be needed to show if there is any benefit in “brain training”, such as in delaying the onset of dementia, would be a large scale prospective study over the long term, maybe 10 years,
As David says the kind of trial required to answer the question is probably unfeasible.
The article contains a link to

Ten-Year Effects of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Cognitive Training Trial on Cognition and Everyday Functioning in Older Adults​