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Brain training games shown to prevent dementia and improve mood


(NaturalNews) Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of watching a loved one succumb to the devastating disease dementia will be eager to find a way to avoid suffering the same fate. Dementia remains somewhat of a mystery to doctors and scientists, with no clear cause identified. However, researchers have been uncovering a number of ways to help reduce people's risk of it in recent years.

Brain training games can now be officially added to the list. While some scientists have insisted in the past that they are nothing more than a fun way to pass the time, it turns out that they actually have some benefits for people who have a high risk of dementia.

Researchers at the University of Sydney looked at two decades of brain training studies and discovered that these games were able to boost overall memory, cognitive abilities, attention and learning in adults who are suffering from "mild cognitive impairment." People in this group suffer from deteriorating memory and other mental abilities, but their daily living skills generally remain intact. It's thought of as a precursor to dementia. Those with mild cognitive impairment have a 10 percent chance of developing dementia within a year, and the risk is even higher if they also happen to suffer from depression.

However, it is important to note that the games only work for those displaying mild impairment. Once dementia has taken hold, the apps do not have any effect.

The researchers came to this conclusion after a meta analysis that looked at data from 17 randomized trials that involved more than 700 participants. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The same team had previously determined that brain training can help healthy elderly people as well as those suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Brain training games are designed to resemble video games in look and feel, but they are made with the aim of boosting thinking and memory skills by getting people to complete exercises that are mentally challenging.

Improvements also noted in mood, quality of life

The meta analysis also found that brain training led to improvements in psychosocial functioning, with benefits like improved mood and a higher perception of one's quality of life.

The study's lead author, Dr. Amit Lampit, pointed out that the treatment is safe and inexpensive. He said: "Taken together, these wide-ranging analyses have provided the necessary evidence to pursue clinical implementation of brain training in the aged-care sector - while continuing research aimed at improving training effectiveness."

Other ways to prevent dementia

Brain training is not the only promising approach to preventing dementia. Research also indicates that avoiding polluted air could be a way for people to protect their brains. People who live in areas with high amounts of air pollution tend to have lower cognitive function later in life, which is one of many reasons people prefer to breathe clean air.

Another study showed that mindful meditation can produce beneficial changes in the areas of the brain associated with memory. A study out of Reading University, meanwhile, found that a compound in the grapes that are used to make champagne can help prevent dementia, after noting improved spatial memory in rats that consumed the compound.

Exercise has also been shown to help prevent dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment. A study that had participants undergo a weight training regimen found that certain areas of the brain actually grew as people's physical strength increased.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 47 million people around the world had dementia in 2015. With around 135 million people projected to have dementia by 2050, research like this is vital for helping to prevent a potential epidemic.

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