You may have noticed more and more marketing campaigns for "brain-boosting" games and activities. You can find puzzle books, apps, and even video games that claim to lower your risk of developing dementia if you use them regularly. But do these actually work, or are they just a clever marketing scheme? Researchers from Mayo Clinic believe they have an answer.
Dementia has become more of an issue in the aging population. But not all dementia is the same. There's normal cognitive aging, which we'll all experience to some degree or another. Next comes mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to dementia. Full-blown dementia includes conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of more severe cognitive impairment.
The Mayo Clinic researchers wanted to know if engaging in a variety of activities could decrease one's risk of progressing from normal cognitive aging to mild cognitive impairment. For their study, they evaluated data from nearly 2,000 cognitively normal participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. The participants were at least 70 years old, and the researchers followed them for an average of four years, evaluating their neurocognitive abilities every 15 months.
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The researchers found that engaging in a variety of activities at least once per week could decrease the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. In particular, using a computer decreased risk by 30%, doing craft activities decreased risk by 28%, engaging in social activities decreased risk by 23%, and playing games decreased risk by 22%.
These benefits even extended to participants with the ApoE4 gene, which increases one's risk of developing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's. For these specific participants, computer use and social activities decreased their risk, though crafting and playing games did not.
So if you want to decrease your risk of developing cognitive impairment and you think these games and apps are fun, go for it. They really might make a difference. If you'd rather save your money, try grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend once or twice a week. And if you want to really protect your brain, take Advanced Memory Formula with that coffee. It's full of nutrients that support mental performance as you age.
Better Health and Living for Women,
Janina Krell-Roesch, Prashanthi Vemuri, Anna Pink, Rosebud O. Roberts, Gorazd B. Stokin, Michelle M. Mielke, Teresa J. H. Christianson, David S. Knopman, Ronald C. Petersen, Walter K. Kremers, Yonas E. Geda. Association Between Mentally Stimulating Activities in Late Life and the Outcome of Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment, With an Analysis of the APOE e4 Genotype. JAMA Neurology, 2017; DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3822