Elderly people who participate in “brain training” classes to keep their minds sharp continue to see positive benefits 10 years after the training, according to a new study.
Even if they took only an initial set of classes aimed at improving their ability to solve problems and react quickly, participants showed that the training stuck with them a decade later, the researchers reported in the January issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Those who received “booster” sessions during the following 10 years displayed even better mental abilities, compared with people who received no brain lessons at all.
The lasting mental boost that can be achieved by taking brain training is a surprise, said study co-author Jonathan King, program director for cognitive aging at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, a co-sponsor of the study.
“When the study first started, people had some idea you could get a short-term effect,” King said. “I don’t think anyone anticipated you could get a five-year or a 10-year effect.”
There is a drawback, however. Problem-solving and quick-reaction training stuck with participants, but memory lessons did not, the researchers said.