‘Brain Training’ App Found to Improve Memory in People with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created an app that could possibly help those in the first stages of dementia improve their memory. While they do not consider this first stage true dementia, they have named it Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment. They consider this the stage between true dementia and healthy cognition. There are currently no medications that help people with this first stage of dementia but they have found that training the brain has had some benefit.

Typically this brain training is extremely boring and tedious so patients lose interest. With this new app, the loss of interest is decreased thereby increasing brain training capability. Researchers turned brain training for these patients into a game and made brain training fun. They named their development “Game Show”.

Results from the first study on this new app showed substantial progress in brain cognition. This study also showed the app made huge gains in episodic memory and complex visual information in those with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment. Researchers also found gains in subjective memory as well as overall confidence after app use. While this is only the first study, researchers who created this app intend on a more comprehensive study in the near future.

Key Points:

  • 1University of Cambridge researchers have created a brain-training game, described in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.
  • 2aMCI, or Amnestic mild cognitive impairment, is considered a stage between so-called normal ageing’ and dementia, often featuring lapses of memory and motivation.
  • 3Speed of attentional processing was one key area in which aMCI patients who used the brain-training game showed improvement.

The results showed that patients who played the game made around a third fewer errors, needed fewer trials and improved their memory score by around 40%, showing that they had correctly remembered the locations of more information at the first attempt on a test of episodic memory. Episodic memory is important for day-to-day activities and is used, for example, when remembering where we left our keys in the house or where we parked our car in a multi-story car park.

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