Training technique halves dementia risk

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A highly specialized brain training technique reduced seniors' dementia risk by nearly 50% over a 10-year period.

The computerized exercise requires participants to identify objects while locating another target in their peripheral vision. As the exercise progresses, the program shortens the time limit and adds distracting objects, which requires the person to increase his or her focus.

Researchers used the method as part of the ACTIVE study, or Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly. The study included 2,832 participants.

Results found participants who completed 11 or more sessions of the training technique had improved cognitive performance, behavior and function. Participants' risk of dementia also was found to decrease 48% over 10 years, and 8% for each session of the training they completed.

The results make the method the only type of computerized brain training shown to significantly reduce dementia risk, researchers said.

“The mistake some people make is thinking that all brain training is the same,” said researcher Jerri Edwards, Ph.D., with the University of South Florida.