A little brain training goes a long way

Source: 
— Nature

People who use a ‘brain-workout’ program for just 10 hours have a mental edge over their peers even a year later, researchers report today in PLoS ONE1.

The search for a regimen of mental callisthenics to stave off age-related cognitive decline is a booming area of research — and a multimillion-dollar business. But critics argue that even though such computer programs can improve performance on specific mental tasks, there is scant proof that they have broader cognitive benefits.

For the study, adults aged 50 and older played a computer game designed to boost the speed at which players process visual stimuli. Processing speed is thought to be “the first domino that falls in cognitive decline”, says Fredric Wolinsky, a public-health researcher at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, who led the research.

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