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Study: Playing Games Improves Memory

Last updated on Tuesday, January 14, 2014

(UNDATED) - There is new evidence that exercise for your brain, even if you are older, can help your memory last longer.

In research published online by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Socieity, groups of people age 74 and older showed long term improvement in memory, reason and mental speed when playing cognitive games designed by the team conducting the study for five-to-six weeks.

"The notion of the project was to see if it was possible to work against (the natural aging of the brain) by training and exercising these different mental abilities, almost like you would a muscle," said Dr. Frederick Unverzagt, a psychiatry professor from the IU School of Medicine, who was one of the researchers.

A group of more than 2,800 older people in several parts of the country were divided into four groups for the study. One was given memory games, one was given games to boost reason ability, one was given games to test brain speed, while the last group did not have any cognitive training at all.

"(Those tested) showed a benefit, that is better memory performance, than the control group who got no training of any kind," said Unverzagt.

The brain games used for the study were designed by Unverzagt and the research team, and he says it's difficult to tell whether some of the commercially available cognitive games would provide similar results.

But he says there is research on another potential way to help save your brain. "Physical exercise also results in improvements in thinking and memory. One of the exciting things the National Institutes of Health is looking into is a combination of physical training with mental training."

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