Tailored brain fitness promotes memory

Patients who receive personalized brain fitness training can make cognitive gains, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

A team created a 12-week program offering computer-based brain stimulation, neurofeedback training and mindfulness meditation. It also addressed physical health through a Mediterranean diet, omega-3 supplements, increased fitness and treatment for sleep apnea and depression.

The idea, according to an article published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease, was to combat problems that lead to hippocampal atrophy. The region regulates emotions and memory; it often changes as disease progresses.

The study included 127 elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment. Individual programs reflected each person's needs, such as improving attention, working memory or executive skills.

After the trial, patients improved on 4.68 out of 10 cognitive domains. MRIs taken of 17 random participants showed that nine had growth in the hippocampus region. Younger patients and those with better baseline memory improved the most.