Memory improves for older adults using brain fitness program

The team studied 59 participants with an average age of 84, recruited from local retirement communities in Southern California.
The volunteers were split into two groups:  the first group used a brain fitness program for an average of 73  20-minute sessions across a six-month period while a second group played it less than 45 times during the same period. Researchers found that the first group demonstrated significantly higher improvement in memory and language skills, compared to the second group.
The study’s findings add to the field exploring whether such brain fitness tools may help improve language and memory and may ultimately help protect individuals from the cognitive decline associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Age-related memory decline affects approximately 40 percent of older adults and is characterized by self-perception of memory loss and decline in memory performance. Previous studies have shown that engaging in mental activities can help improve memory, but little research has been done to determine whether the numerous brain fitness games and memory training programs on the market are effective in improving memory. This is one of the first studies to assess the cognitive effects of a computerized memory training program.
Authors of the study are Dr. Karen Miller, associate clinical professor, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and Dr. Gary Small, professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Semel Institute.
The study was funded by Dakim, manufacturer of Dakim Brain Fitness, the computerized program used in the study.  Small serves on the scientific advisory board of the company and owns Dakim stock options.  Miller has received consulting fees for previous pilot studies with Dakim.