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In Brief

Elderly Brain Training Benefits Not Clear

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Many "brain training" programs claim to help elderly people keep their wits sharp. But is it all just hype? A new study says some of these programs show cognitive benefits in the lab, but those benefits don't translate to improvement on real-world tasks.

Elderly adults in the study showed less decline in their scores on tests of reasoning and processing speed, but not memory, 10 years after participating in mental training programs, compared with people who didn't do the programs, according to a study detailed online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

But the elderly adults who underwent training were no better at solving real-world problems than older people who didn't train.

Dr. Stephen Salloway of Brown University in Providence, R.I., who was not involved in the study, told MedPage Today that the study's "mixed results" mean participating in such training programs shouldn't be recommended. But Salloway added that it is important to keep looking for cognitive interventions for the aging baby boomer population.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.