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Brain-training computer games have little scientific support; here's how to maintain cognitive function into old age

Brain training

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(NaturalNews) For people who received computerized brain-boosting games over the holidays, or who just enjoy turning to them any time of the year, consider yourselves warned: They're not providing the extensive benefits you may think.

So say experts from Loyola University Health System, who maintain that the claims the industries behind these games make about helping prevent dementia and boost intelligence simply aren't supported by scientific evidence. If anyone should know, it's Loyola University Medical Center neurologist Xabier Beristain, MD. He works with patients afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. "These games are not a panacea," he said in a press release.(1)

So-called brain-training games not effective in improving overall intelligence, cognitive ability

He went on to explain that brain-training games require the user to perform certain tasks on a computer. While such games may help a person become skilled at a very specific tasks, he says that little evidences exists to suggest that they improve a person's cognitive abilities or make them more intelligent overall. Rather, Beristain turns to the experience he has in treating those with diminished cognitive ability, saying that the best ways to boost brain power stem mainly from social interaction, engagement in challenging activities such as learning a new hobby like photography, exercise and enjoying a diet high in antioxidants, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.(1)

Beristain doesn't stand alone in his beliefs. Several other experts have also expressed their concerns about the statements certain computer game companies make about bolstering intelligence. In fact, in a statement from the Stanford Center on Longevity titled "A Consensus on the Brain Training Industry from the Scientific Community," several psychologists and neuroscience professionals expressed their view as follows:

We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do. The promise of a magic bullet detracts from the best evidence to date, which is that cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles. In the judgment of the signatories below, exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxieties of older adults about impending cognitive decline. We encourage continued careful research and validation in this field.(2)

Healthy, effective ways to improve cognitive function

Rather than spend money on these games, which aren't scientifically sound anyway, consider turning to the many other ways to improve and maintain cognitive function.

Beristain hits the nail on head when he speaks about eating proper foods.

Eat walnuts

For example, several researchers say not only that walnuts have been shown to improve memory and learning skills, but that consumption of them may delay the onset of and even prevent Alzheimer's disease. The reason walnuts are effective is because they are rich in vitamins and minerals and are the only nut with a great quantity of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that boosts brain and heart health.(3)

Take vitamin D supplements

Another finding sheds light on the possibility that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for those wanting to improve their cognitive abilities. In a study conducted by researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, it was determined that lack of the vitamin can impact cognitive function. Of the study, lead author Valerie Wilson, MD, assistant professor of geriatrics at Wake Forest Baptist, said there's "increasing evidence that suggests there is an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline over time."(4)


Meditation has also been found to help those wishing to improve their memory.

Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that, in particular, Vajrayana meditation, which focuses on activating the sympathetic system (arousal), is an effective way to help with cognitive performance. It fact, it was determined that just one session produced significant enhancements in brain performance.(5)


(1) http://www.loyolamedicine.org

(2) http://longevity3.stanford.edu

(3) http://www.express.co.uk

(4) http://www.wakehealth.edu

(5) http://www.sciencedaily.com

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