November 21, 2017
Miami Herald
Josh Magness

If you’re looking for tips to fend off dementia, you might just be in luck.

That’s because there’s a mind exercise game you can play that may reduce your chances of developing the disease, according to a new study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions last week.

The game, called “Double Decision,” is from a program known as BrainHQ, as reported by Quartz.

For the mental exercise, users are asked to identify objects in the middle of the screen, as well as other disapearing objects on the sides, the Indiana University School of Medicine wrote. The game then changes the rate of the flashing objects and the overall difficulty based on how well the user is performing.

It’s known as a “speed of processing” exercise, and that’s exactly the type of mental game that can help prevent someone from developing dementia, said Frederick W. Unverzagt, a professor at Indiana University and a researcher on the study.

“Our understanding is that the type of processing used for that training operates through (a) different memory system. There’s an explicit memory system and a procedural system,” he said. “The explicit system is conscious learning, like being in a classroom, listening to content come in, drilling on it, trying to retain it.

“The speed of processing system is procedural. You get better at something by dint of doing it – over and over and over again. It is a different network of brain regions that are involved, and it may be that is part of the puzzle. And it may be that the adaptive part of the training – the part that’s like a computer game – interacts with that.”

The study backs up Unverzagt’s statements.

In it, researchers put 2,802 people over the age of 65 from various places through four different types of exercises. One group had instructions on “strategies to improve memory of life events and activities,” Indiana University wrote, while another focused on strategies regarding problem solving.

A third group played the computer-based speed of processing game on touchscreens, while the fourth did not perform any mental exercises as a part of the program.

Within a six-week period, there were ten one-hour sessions given to the participants, some of whom received additional exercises, the researchers wrote.

Ten years after the initial training, the subjects were looked at by researchers to see if any developed dementia, and 260 of them had, according to the study. Only one group had a significantly lower chance of developing dementia than other groups — the one that played the speed of processing game, with a 29 percent less chance when compared to the group that received no training.

It’s been exciting news for many.