Memory exercises help brain function

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Though you can’t halt or reverse aging, but by keeping your brain in shape, you can enjoy an active old age.

Dr. Bruce Naughton said, “If your brain function is preserved and your muscles are still functioning, you may not be able to do a task quite as fast or efficiently as you did at a younger age, but you can still do them.”

A new report shows the brain can be trained. Researchers studied almost 3,000 healthy people who were not cognitively impaired. They used specially designed training exercises focused on memory, reasoning and processing speed.

Each training intervention produced large and significant improvements and those benefits persisted to at least five years for memory and to 10 years for reasoning and speed of processing training.

Dr. Naughton is a specialist in geriatric medicine and directs the life program at the Catholic Health System. He wasn’t surprised by the success of this study.

“People who exercise in social settings, dancing’s good, chess is another very good activity. There are a variety of activities that have been shown people who engage in those activities will preserve brain function longer,” Dr. Naughton said.

A version of one of the exercises is already available to the public. It’s a computer exercise that tests and improves your ability to recognize and respond to objects. Dr. Naughton is persuaded that some of these exercises have real value.

He said, “I do think that we’re going to have to look at maybe enhancing that aspect of our program. This is an important study for that reason. There’s no fountain of youth, but what we want to do is preserve function for as long as possible.”

It’s important to stress that the people who were studied were healthy. This sort of training is not intended for people with dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Naughton says that it would be a burden to them, asking them to take on a task they couldn’t accomplish or benefit from.

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