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Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:28 pm
by Julie G
After several disappointing studies dissing the efficacy of brain training, this one bucks the trend. The ACTIVE trial just reported that brain training focusing on speed processing nearly halved the incidence of dementia in older adults who used it a decade earlier.

Play on! In a first, brain training cuts risk of dementia 10 years later ... ntia-risk/
The company licensed ACTIVE’s speed-of-processing module as the “Double Decision” exercise in its product ($96 a year).

Call me a sucker. I just signed up ;)

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:06 pm
by Stavia
Not enough data about the three groups to say if they are truly similar to support this game particularly against other interventions. BUT I personally believe computer games requiring fast reactions or complex decision making (not candy crush saga) can only be beneficial in terms of cognitive enhancement.

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:47 pm
by SusanJ
Here's a PLOS blogger's opinion on this one.

It would be great if there were a simple and accessible way to reduce the risk of dementia – even just a little. But no, there is no good reason in this latest report of the ACTIVE trial to invest the time or money for the products behind this new round of publicity.

Let’s go back to the beginning to make sense of what’s happening. The trial’s acronym stands for Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE). There’s a big slew of publications on it – you can see them here at the bottom of its trial registration entry.

Although some of the reporting refers to a new trial, it isn’t. Even reporting on 10-year results isn’t new: those results came back in 2014 – months before the scientific consensus statement that there was no good evidence for claims of dementia prevention.

You can read her analysis at: ... ial-redux/

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:31 am
by Julie G
Thanks for your insights, Stavia & Susan. This isn't a peer reviewed paper, but the results are still intriguing. From the neuropsych folks I've spoken with, there is something unique about speed processing's overall effect on the brain. In patients with cognitive decline this ability is always compromised and tends to negatively progress. Dr. B. has has several patients who've shown some surprisingly significant improvement in speed processing that have spilled over to other cognitive gains. I'd love to hear Richard's insights regarding speed processing as it relates to overall cognition.

I played with Double Decision last night. Interestingly, it can be found in the "Attention Category" on BrainHQ, but it certainly has a speed component. After 15 mins. of (interrupted...grrr) training, I was able to move up to the second level. Baby steps :roll:.

With the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference/AAIC taking place in Toronto, we can expect to be flooded with many press releases like this as information slowly (and perhaps sensationally) trickles out of the conference.

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:52 am
by apod
I've been playing with Lumosity on and off for the past year or so -- it's pretty lame compared with a more modern multiplayer game... although maybe the lack of addictiveness is a feature, such that I can just log a few minutes throughout the week without wasting too much time. I'm not convinced that progress in the game translates to progress outside of the game, but it is fun to chart improvements.

Along somewhat similar lines, I've been playing with the "Tap Test":

Reliability and validity of a computerized neurocognitive test battery, CNS Vital Signs: ... 7706000837

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:18 am
by RichardS
There is a lot going on in this paper, and I don't have the time to go in deep on it.
The full text is here:

The five year follow up is here
But my initial impressions are that:
(1) I'm concerned about the serious attrition in the subjects. It is to be expected when you are doing a 10-year follow-up for a group averaging 73yo at baseline. Still, it presents serious statistical challenges when you go from roughly 2800 subjects at base line to 1200 at final follow up (officially 44% of the original sample).
(2) There is a huge disparity between the larger self reported activities of daily living compared to the objective findings from the actual cognitive testing. Keep in mind that there is no blinding when you have an active cognitive training compared to an untrained control group. That creates a big demand on the subjects to confirm the researchers' bias in favor of the intervention. A long proven risk in non-blinded clinical trials.
(3) While a huge sample is always a benefit in terms of attaining statistical significance, it needs to be tempered by the potential for identifying clinical significance. If you threw a million subjects into the study, you would for sure get just about anything you test to be significant, but as the sample size gets increasingly massive, the effect sizes being found significant become so small that the ability to declare those findings clinically significant diminishes.

I have not yet digested how the booster sessions were distributed, but it would be my next item for my review of this paper.

Of the three interventions, memory, reasoning and speed of processing, only the speed training showed up with benefits that I might consider potentially clinical significant. I suspect it is memory and reasoning that those seeking the benefits of training most want to be affected.

I'll try to get back to this paper soon.

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:07 pm
by circular
I recall reading an article sometime in the past several (more?) years that indicated that synthetic thinking, ie synthesis, improved multiple cognitive domains. Sorry I don't have a study about it to paste here ... Just throwing it out in case anyone has anything on it. It wasn't so much about brain training, games and the like, but engaging in advanced levels of analysis. Not sure I'm articulating this right. Need to get to bed.

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:03 pm
by buck3Maureen
I started brainhq when Julie posted this. I understand that it may or may not cause improvements but what I like is that overtime if I do this and I see improvements it could show that other strategies that I am doing are having a positive effect. I am doing the double decision and the optic flow which I actually find is fun. One of the games has three people around a table talking about other people - this game I am awful at. So I think this is a good tool to challenge our minds and perhaps just take snapshots of areas over time.

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:28 pm
by SusanJ
Maureen, thanks for your perspective as someone who has actually used it! Sounds more interesting that some of the other brain training sites.

Re: Brain training delivers after all?

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:46 pm
by GenePoole0304
why play games when you can go with.
Nootropics you heard of them?? ... ugs-guide/

I got my own formula based on somethings very commonly used.