Harvard Men's Health Watch

In the journals: Brain training gives you a lasting boost

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The benefits of 10 to 14 weeks of rigorous mental training to sharpen the mind persisted for up to 10 years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The speed at which participants' could perform mentally challenging tasks and learn new information improved, but training did not seem to boost memory long term. The average volunteer was 82 at the end of the study.

For the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE( study, over 2,800 volunteers were divided into four groups. Three of the groups completed 10 training sessions lasting 60 to 70 minutes over five to six weeks and were then tested for changes in memory, reasoning, or problem-solving speed. The fourth group got no brain training but were still checked for changes in memory, reasoning, and problem solving ability.

Everyone in the study declined a bit in their mental powers, but those who received brain training declined less. The study provides more backing for the "use it or lose it theory" of brain aging, which says that people hang onto more of their skills over time if they lead a mentally active life.

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