Society has concocted a perception of aging that accepts diminished function, diminished brainpower and diminished memory as normal. In North America there are 78 million boomers past age 60 standing on that slippery slope, hoping not to accelerate into a morasse of dependency. New research tells us that they don’t have to.
Cognitive decline and memory loss are considered such fundamental conditions of the aging process that the term “Age Related Cognitive Decline” (ARCD) has become commonplace. These threats begin as young as age 30, worsen slowly but steadily thereafter, and are capable of destroying the independence and promise of the golden years.
Eric R. Kandel, M.D. (Nobel Laureate) has said, "Cognitive Neuroscience--With its concern about perception, action, memory, language and selective attention---will increasingly come to represent the central focus of all Neurosciences in the 21st century."
Dr. Norman Doidge, as the keynote speaker at the American Academy of Pain Medicine meeting in Feb 2009, as reported in Medscape Medical News, called the concept of brain plasticity “the most important medical advance in 400 years”.
Quality of Life
Importantly, that means a better quality of life for us today. If we demand to experience healthy aging, then properly directed mental exercise is essential, and it has never been easier to get.
Cognitive decline, threatens the ability of elderly people to live better lives more independently. In a five year multicentre trial, 2832 elderly people with good physical and mental functioning at baseline received one of three preventive cognitive training interventions aimed at reasoning, memory, or speed of processing, or no contact with the trial staff.
Although the interventions comprised only 10 sessions of training focused on the particular cognitive function, five years later the intervention groups scored better than controls on the targeted cognitive abilities. The group whose cognitive training was focused reasoning also self reported better activities of daily living.
Yes, brains age, but as we age the brain also evolves. Overwhelming evidence from all over the world tells us that we can positively increase the likelihood of staying mentally and physically fit throughout our lives. Our skills can not only be maintained, they can be improved.
Growing evidence tells us that through focused cognitive activity such as stimulating interactive computer tasks along with targeted skills training, we can actally build a “cognitive reserve”, or a buffer to protect the brain by increasing the connections between the cells or promoting new cell growth. Of course, for neurons to form beneficial connections, they must be correctly stimulated.
We all know the phrase “use it or lose it”. That is certainly the case for healthy brains. Over prepare then go with the flow.
Protect your brain health
With daily cognitive activity, research indicates that we can reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by 63% and protect against senile dementia by 46%. With the correct cognitive training, we will also stay driving longer and do it better.
A 5 year study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that short-term cognitive training helped maintain daily living skills for 5 years beyond the training. Note that the speed-training groups who received booster training had the greatest benefit, indicating that the more you do, the better off you are. Studies tell us that we can do everything we do, every day, in a better way and stay safer doing it.
Drive safer and longer
An additonal 2 year program that targeted speed of processsing training, demonstrated that participants maintained benefits of training for at least 2 years beyond training, which translated to improvements in everyday abilities, including efficient performance of instrumental activities of daily living and safer driving performance. The risk of depression in the elderly increases with other illnesses and when ability to function becomes limited. Estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1 percent to about 5 percent, but rises to 13.5 percent in those who lose their independent lifestyle. Study participants who engaged in computerized brain exercises designed to improve visual speed, accuracy and expanse of processing, were 30% less likely to slip into clinical depression after 5 years. This shows that a small amount of the right kind of brain fitness training can help people experience a happier life even 5 years later.
Get back your memory
A separate study reported by the Gerontology Society of North America showed that computer aided cognitive training rolled back the clock on memory capability by 10 years.
Without question, cognitive decline is associated with risk for functional decline, nursing home placement, and mortality. Why risk it when cognitive training can enhance our opportunity to live happier, more independent and rewarding lives.
Brain Magic uses the most sophisticated and effective brain training protocol available and is done on your home computer. To begin, take a deep breath, it calms the mind. You will be eased into a graduated training program that will guide you, consult with you and adapt to you throughout the process. Along the way, the format changes in style and structure, and as your abilities grow, that growth leads to competence and up you go. The degree of gain is dose dependent. So enjoy the training and remember, the more you train, the more you gain.
Dr. Lawrence Nash is a member of the Cognitve Neuroscience Society and resides in Langley british Columbia. His Brain Magic training modules harness one's innate brain plasticity to enhance memory, provide neuroprotection as well as to boost raw brainpower.