Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Improving Memory With Brain Fitness Program

Technology is everywhere these days. From smart phones to tablet PCs, our society relies on technology more than ever before. Though it might seem like it is taking over, technology might help you more than you even realize. A team of UCLA researchers found that older adults who used a "brain fitness" computer program had improved memory skills.

Since Alzheimer's disease a growing concern for older adults, doctors, and researchers alike, the brain fitness program is gaining attention. The degenerative brain disease has a number of symptoms, the most common being loss of memory function and the inability to understand and process information. This is why any study that could potentially help prevent or slow down the effects of the disease is important.

A team of scientists conducted the research study regarding this "brain fitness" program. This team included Dr. Karen Miller, an associate clinical professor at Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at UCLA, along with Dr. Gary Smalls, a professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences at the Semel Institute. The research conducted by the team at UCLA was presented on August 3rd at an annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

The UCLA team began by studying 59 people with an average age of 84 years old. These participants were recruited from local retirement centres in Southern California. They were separated into two different groups. The first group used the brain fitness program for a total of 73 20-minute intervals spread out over six months. Meanwhile, the second group of participants used the brain fitness program less than 45 times over the same amount of time. At the end of the study, the difference between the two groups was significant. The first group who used the brain fitness program more often had improved memory and language skills over the second group tested.

This particular study is unique, as it is one of the first that looks at the effects of computer memory training and how it impacts the brain. The UCLA testing by Dr. Miller and Dr. Smalls showed that the more frequently that older adults used the brain fitness program, the more that their memories improved. The results of the study indicate that using these tools may actually help to prevent memory loss and slow down the effects of memory loss and degenerative brain disease. Since memory loss is an issue that increases in older adults, affecting about 40% of older adults, anything that may actually improve memory function is beneficial.

Can this brain fitness program actually slow down the effects of memory loss caused by degenerative brain diseases, like Alzheimer's disease? This type of research is still relatively new, but the results are positive so far. Memory function was improved in study participants that frequently used the brain fitness program on the computer. As a result, the study indicates that improved memory function in other patients may be a possibility.

Technology may be everywhere, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if this UCLA study is any indication, technology may be able to help prevent or slow down the effects of Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.