HEALTH

'Brain-Training' Games Will Not Prevent Dementia, Try These Ideas Instead

02/08/2017 7:19 PM AEST | Updated 02/08/2017 11:10 PM AEST

Sudoku and other “brain-training” games do little to prevent dementia, contrary to widespread belief, a report has revealed.

More than one third of people surveyed by Age UK believed such puzzles were the best way to keep our brains healthy as we age.

But now, new research by Global Council on Brain Health UK and Age UK has revealed these claims are “exaggerated” and there little to no long-term benefits of “brain-training” games.  

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Instead researchers suggest people concentrate on socialising, learning a new skill (such as a language) or doing physical activity that requires mental engagement, such as tennis or dancing. 

The GCBH report read: “If people play a ‘brain game’, they may get better at that game, but improvements in game performance have not yet been shown to convincingly result in improvements in people’s daily cognitive abilities.

“There is insufficient evidence that improvements in game performance will improve people’s overall functioning in everyday life. For example, we do not have evidence establishing that getting better at playing Sudoku will help you
manage your finances any better.”

Age UK has urged people to start stimulating the brain as young as possible.

The charity’s chief scientist, James Goodwin explained: “Even though it’s never too late to learn something new, the overwhelming message from the report is that you shouldn’t wait until later life to try to maintain your brain health.

“The younger you start challenging yourself with mentally stimulating activities, the better your brain function will be as you age.”

Age UK tips for keeping your brain active:

  • Find new ways to stimulate your brain. Novelty is important to continually challenge it.
  • Study something you are interested in. Set achievable goals and reward yourself along the way with something you find relaxing in order to gradually increase your involvement in the activity.
  • Use life stages and transitions such as moving, changing careers or retiring to try new mentally stimulating activities.

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