Monday, July 8, 2013

Computer Memory Exercises Can "Bulk Up" Senior Memories

Seniors can improve their memories with a computer memory-training program, Karen Milller, Ph.D., an associate clinical professor of neuroscience and human behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues reported in the July American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The study included 69 cognitively normal older individuals. Their memory and language skills were tested, and they were then randomized to engage in an eight-week computer memory-training program or to be wait-listed for it. Their memory and language skills were also tested two months and six months after the start of the study. Use of the program led to improved delayed memory scores after two months and six months. Also, anyone who used the program for more than 40 sessions improved in terms of not just delayed memory, but immediate memory and language abilities.

"These results suggest that this form of computerized cognitive training may have its greatest benefit when used consistently for at least two months (or the equivalent of 40 sessions) or more," the researchers concluded.

The findings also dovetail with the passionate conviction of Dilip Jeste, M.D., former APA president and chair in aging at the University of California, San Diego, that seniors can continue to function at a high level. "Studies across species have shown that brain growth and development are not restricted to childhood, but continue into old age," he said. "Blood vessels, synapses, even neurons can grow in certain parts of the brain--provided there is optimal psychosocial and physical stimulation."

For more information on this subject, see Psychiatric News.

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