Posted on Sep 05, 2019, 8 p.m.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has published a study suggesting those in their 70s are able to multitask cognitively just as well as those much younger with the help of online brain training exercises.
In today’s society information can be an overload and individuals of all ages are being asked to multitask to an extent not known before, this multitasking and information overload is impacting all brains regardless of age, and this study suggests that there are options to combat brain drain that results from aging and divided focus.
“The brain is not a muscle, but like our bodies, if we work out and train it, we can improve our mental performance,” says lead author Mark Steyvers, a professor of cognitive sciences with the university who partnered with Lumosity the online platform known for brain boosting games designed to improve memory and focus.
Researchers from the University of California along with colleagues collected and analyzed data from the brain game Ebb and Flow that forces the brain to shift between cognitive processes while deciphering shapes and movements: 1,000 samples were chosen from random samples of player performances from millions of adults who played the game from 2012-2017 which were assigned to 2 categories; those between the age of 21-80 who finished less than 60 sessions, and those between the ages of 71-80 who finished at least 1,000 sessions.
“We discovered that people in the upper age ranges who completed specific training tasks were able to beef up their brain’s ability to switch between tasks in the game at a level similar to untrained 20- and 30-year-olds,” said Steyvers.
However, the edge the older players had was diminished once the younger players completed 10 additional sessions, which suggests older adults need to continue practicing mental gymnastics such as this to maintain the benefits.
“Medical advances and improved lifestyles are allowing us to live longer,” Steyvers said. “It’s important to factor brain health into that equation. We show that with consistent upkeep, cognitive youth can be retained well into our golden years.”
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