Brain training with games, I wrote in an earlier blog, (Blog 9/17/15) showed little evidence the activity could make our thinking sharper. The skills learned weren’t transferable to other activities, the argument went.
Despite these conclusions, some researchers continued with their studies and eventually proved the general opinion wrong. Brain function can be improved with games but only for some people. Those best served were the mentally impaired though, sadly, not those struggling with Alzheimer’s. Brain training games proved to be effective with schizophrenics, children who suffered with attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), patients who endured mental declines after brain surgery or chemotherapy, and those with Down syndrome. (“The For-Real Science of Brain Training,” by Dan Hurley, Scientific American Mind, May/June 2016, pgs. 58-65.)
Older adults did benefit in one, area. When they refreshed their driver training skills, the effect lasted up to 6 years. (Ibid, pg. 61) For some reason, while improving their response times, the training also reduced symptoms of depression by 30%, a benefit that likewise lasted for a number of years. Again, the activity offered no benefit to memory retention. (Ibid, pg 61.) Research on the effect of driver training programs continues, but anyone wanting to give the game a try can do so at www.drivesharp.com.
Proper diet and exercise continue to be the treatment of choice for mental and physical wellness. The jury is still out on whether games can make the general population smarter and happier.
(Originally published May 9, 2016)