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Unexpected Side Effect: Makes You Happier
Date:3/17/2009

Study shows brain fitness reduces risk of depressive symptoms

SAN FRANCISCO, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- In a study published today in The Journals of Gerontology (Medical Sciences), researchers found that a brain fitness program measured initially for its impact on cognitive abilities in older adults also had a significant beneficial impact on symptoms of depression.

The findings are part of an ongoing study of older Americans funded by the National Institutes of Health and known as the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study. With 2,832 participants, the ACTIVE study is the largest community-based multi-site randomized controlled trial ever conducted that focuses on maintaining or improving cognitive abilities of older people.

The ACTIVE study randomly assigned participants to four groups: one group did computerized brain exercises, a second group took classes in memory strategies, a third group took classes in reasoning and a fourth group served as a control that engaged in no special activity. Groups that did an activity engaged in the activity for a total of 10 hours. Participants completed those activities by October 1999, and their outcomes have continued to be tracked and published in follow-up reports.

While earlier reporting on the study was on primary measures of cognition and secondary measures of quality of life, this new report on 2,036 participants is the first to focus on secondary measures of how cognitive training affects mood.

Researchers found that participants in the study who engaged in the computerized brain exercises, which were designed to improve visual speed, accuracy and expanse of processing, had significantly better outcomes in key measures related to mood in one-year and five-year follow-ups. Participants in the other three groups did not have similar beneficial outcomes on this measure.

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SOURCE Posit Science
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