10-year study shows that brain training really works

If there was an app on your phone that could improve your memory or ability to process information, would you try it? You’d probably say yes; afterall, who wouldn’t want a sharp and well-functioning mind?

And that is exactly what brain training does. Just as athletes engage in strength and conditioning by repeatedly exercising certain muscle groups and their respiratory and cardiovascular systems, targeted repetition of brain exercises provides the key to strengthening and conditioning our brain functions.

The ACTIVE study 

Brain training has been proven to work in the ACTIVE study—one of the largest and most respected studies ever conducted on brain training—which studied 2,832 healthy adults in six sites across the United States for a period of 10 years.

The goal of the study was to test the effectiveness of three cognitive interventions (memory, reasoning, and visual speed of processing) in maintaining brain health and functional independence in older adults. These interventions were chosen because prior research indicated that these abilities show early age-related decline and are related to activities of daily living.

Training was conducted in small groups in ten 60-75 minute sessions over 5-6 weeks.  Some individuals also had 5-hour “booster” sessions at later times.

The results: brain health benefits maintained for up to 10 years

Results at 10 years demonstrate that brain training has beneficial effects on brain health and self-reported IADL function.

The study showed that all interventions produced immediate improvement in the corresponding brain functions. Remarkably, the improvement was sustained for 10 years for the reasoning and speed trained groups.

At the 10th year mark, participants in all three intervention groups also reported less difficulty in performing Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) activities than the participants in the control group.

IADL activities are those that allow an individual to live independently in a community. Although not necessary for functional living, the ability to perform IADLs can significantly improve the quality of life. Examples include remembering to go to doctors’ appointments, taking your medications as prescribed, and being able to do housework and prepare your meals.

Interested in trying brain training?

The ACTIVE study used technology from BrainHQ, a brain gym that aims to help you achieve brain fitness. Built by a team of top neuroscientists, BrainHQ provides brain training exercises which have been proven in dozens of published studies to make real and lasting improvements in brain function.