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Study examines the effects of special training software on dementia
Dementia includes deficits in cognitive, emotional and social skills and can lead to significant impairments of social and professional functions. Researchers have now discovered that special computer-based training software can reduce the risk of developing dementia by up to 48 percent.
In a long-term study, scientists from the University of South Florida have now found that training software on a computer can reduce our risk of dementia by up to 48 percent. The preliminary results show for the first time that this type of intervention can delay the disease. The experts published the results of their study at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto, reports the Reuters news agency.
Experts doubted the positive effects of computer-based training software for a long time
To date, psychologists and neuroscientists have largely rejected the evidence that computer-based cognitive training software or so-called "brain games" can have an impact on human cognitive functions.
What treatment options are there for dementia?
Dementia can affect both women and men. However, dementia that occurs in women can quickly have serious consequences. Because women are more affected by the effects of Alzheimer's. Dementia primarily affects our short-term memory, but also thinking, language and motor skills. In some cases, the entire personality structure changes. A small number of forms of dementia are reversible, with some of the other forms therapeutic interventions are possible. However, these only delay the symptoms. There are some heralds that can indicate dementia. For example, ever increasing depression may indicate dementia.
Study divides subjects into three different test groups
The current study analyzed the effects of cognitive training programs on 2,785 healthy older adults. For this, she used the data from an older study. The participants in this study were divided into three different groups. One of the groups trained memory improvement. The second group trained reasoning and the third group worked with a computer program on the speed of information processing, the scientists explain.
What did the computer-based training include in the study?
Computer-assisted training was particularly about visual perception, say the doctors. The subjects were asked to identify various objects on a screen as quickly as possible. With every correct answer, the program became more difficult.
Some subjects received a few additional sessions two years later
The subjects took part in ten one-hour sessions in a classroom. The entire investigation went over a period of five weeks. However, some of the participants received four additional sessions after one year. Another two years later, there were four sessions, the researchers say.
Doctors examine the subjects over a period of ten years
The doctors immediately examined the cognitive and functional changes. If the subjects had participated in the training program for one, two, three, five or ten years, a re-examination was carried out, Reuters reports. The scientists wanted to determine whether this type of treatment really helps them to carry out daily tasks.
Computer-based training leads to unexpected success
The data from these older studies have now been included in the study of a computerized brain training program. Dr. Jerri Edwards of the University of South Florida did a secondary analysis of the 10-year data. This time, however, the doctors searched for the time of onset of dementia and how long those affected had already suffered from the disease. The researchers found that computer-assisted training in the rapid processing of information meant that participants actually had a 33 percent lower risk of developing dementia. Such a positive change could not be found in the other two groups, says Dr. Edwards according to Reauters.
Eleven or more sessions reduced the risk of dementia by up to 48 percent
If subjects had attended eleven or more sessions to improve their speed of information processing, their risk of developing dementia also decreased by up to 48 percent during the study period, explains Edwards. This finding could also be clinically relevant. (as)