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Study questions effectiveness of $80 million per year 'brain exercise' products industry
Date:2/9/2009

A new study from Lifespan evaluated the research to date on the impact of cognitive training on the healthy elderly population. Their review of all relevant randomized, controlled trials shows no evidence that structured cognitive interventions or "brain exercise" programs delay or slow progression of cognitive changes in healthy elderly. Such programs are now an $80 million per year industry. The study appeared in Alzheimer's & Dementia.

There is much research on the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation strategies among elderly who already experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease, as well as on the positive impact of physical exercise. The researchers, however, wanted to evaluate current research that would focus on the impact of cognitive interventions in the healthy elderly population. With this in mind, they established three objectives for their study: to systematically review the available literature on cognitive training and the healthy elderly, to assess and compare the efficacy of different cognitive interventions and to provide recommendations for future research.

According to senior author Peter J. Snyder, PhD, vice president of research for Lifespan, and a professor of clinical neurosciences (neurology) at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, the researchers determined that the last meta-analysis performed on studies of healthy elderly and memory training was published in 1992. Since then, the definition of cognitive training has expanded and media attention has sparked an increase in public awareness with more and more Americans trying to curtail the effects of aging. As a result, Americans are now expected to spend $80 million this year on brain exercise products, compared to $2 million in 2005.

Through a systematic review of literature using established techniques to analyze randomized controlled trials of cognitive interventions in the healthy elderly, the researchers found a
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Contact: Nancy Cawley
ncawley@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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