A new 10-year study shows that just 6 weeks of brain training can significantly improve cognition in the areas of reasoning and speed-of-processing, plus improved ability to carry out everyday tasks—and that the benefits can last for 10 years or more.
The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study began in 1998 as the first large-scale clinical trial of its kind. The study focused on a group of 2,802 community-dwelling seniors aged 65 and older within 6 metropolitan locations and measured the long-term effects of computerized brain training in three key areas: memory, reasoning (problem-solving), and speed-of-processing—functions that are the first to decline with age yet are necessary for carrying out the basic tasks involved with independent living, such as meal preparation, housework, finances, health care, shopping, travel, and hygiene.
The study participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups:
- Memory training
- Reasoning training
- Speed-of-processing training
- A no-contact control group
Brain Training Interventions:
- Each brain training group received just ten 60-to 75-minute training sessions over 5 to 6 weeks.
- Four 75-minute booster-training sessions were provided at 1 and 3 years to a randomized 39% of participants who completed 80% of their initial training sessions.
Each brain training intervention produce large and significant improvements which dissipated slowly but persisted to at least 5 years for memory training and to 10 years for reasoning and speed-of-processing training.
After 10 Years
- 73.6% of reasoning-trained participants and 70.7% speed-trained participants were performing at or above their respective cognitive ability—compared to the no-contact control group at 61.7% and 48.8%.
- 60% to 70% of the participants said they were as well as, or better off than, when they started the study in terms of their everyday activities.
- The effects of memory training were not as significant, yet the 10-year trends, “were in the expected direction for memory,” according to Dr. Rebok, one of the study’s authors. For long-lasting memory improvement, ongoing brain training is likely to produce the best results.
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