Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Brain Training: Show Me the Evidence!

Brain Training: Show Me the Evidence!

By Tejal M. Shah & Ralph N. Martins

Many computer-based brain-training programs promise to improve cognitive capacity and delay age-related issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, but how credible is the evidence behind these claims?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Despite greater efforts to maintain brain function well into late life, the challenge of helping older adults to maintain or improve memory, judgement, learning, executive functions and processing speed remains a challenge. The high prevalence of age-related degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease makes the need to resolve this challenge more pressing. A 5-year delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease can save Australia $13.5 billion by 2020 and $67.5 billion by 2040. As drug trials have been ineffective to date, attention has been directed towards lifestyle strategies and interventions that prevent or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

Among these approaches is evidence-based research into the use of computerised brain-training software, which has spawned a multi-billion dollar computer-based brain health and fitness industry that claims it can promote and maintain healthy brain ageing. However, most of the software programs often lack the supportive data required to validate their efficacy. We have therefore conducted a review to help give clinicians guidance when advising their patients and to help consumers decide which programs are strongly evidence based and therefore more likely to be beneficial for healthy brain ageing.

We scrutinised 26 peer-reviewed studies that examined the effectiveness of seven computerised brain-training...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.