The human brain is the most potent and sophisticated information-processing device. Researchers have carried out extensive studies on the effects of engaging in cognitive training programs for both the younger and the older population. Brain training is a program of regular brain activities that help to improve one’s cognitive abilities. The cognitive ability of the elderly changes as time goes by as they experience a reduction of cognitive function such as attention, memory, and processing speed. The decline in cognitive abilities in older people results in great difficulty in the performance of daily activities; however, using a cognitive training program could improve their cognitive functions. The purpose of this study is to provide evidence that indeed, brain training has a positive impact on a variety of cognitive abilities of both the elderly and the young people.
Schmiedek, Lövdén & Lindenberger, (2010) carried out an empirical study to investigate the effect of brain training on cognitive functions. The study focused on the impact of brain games on the young and the elderly population. The trio examined four categories of cognition: processing speed, level of attention, the executive function, and the global cognitive statutes (Schmiedek, Loveden & Lindenberger, 2010). Their findings indicated that video gaming when used to train the elderly some cognitive functions (Schmiedek, Lövdén, & Lindenberger, 2010). This research formed the basis for many companies seizing the opportunity of producing video games for the elderly to improve some of their cognitive function. Such video games include brain challenge, big brain academy, and brain age. Since the release of video games to help in brain training, their global popularity has grown over time.
Nouchi et al. (2012) argue that the benefit of videogames in enhancing cognitive functions of the elderly is pivotal as it results in the transfer effect of the elderly and younger population. Nouchi et al. (2012) further argue that video games improve both the trained and untrained skills in the elderly and the people. Reynolds (2017) explains that braining exercises improve thinking skills and retention competence. He further suggests that the brain exercises should be combined with intense workouts to amplify it’s benefits to all the people, including those who don’t have mental deficits.
On brain training games, thirty-two older people were taken for the training where they were then divided and assigned to two game groups (Brain Age and Tetris). The task was completed by 14 elderly members out of the possible 16 in the Tetris group and 14 elderly members out of 16 in the Brain age group. All the elderly members recruited had no experience in video games; this was done to maximize the benefit of the research. The elderly participants in both the games played their games for 15 minutes each day, and in a week, they managed to play five days, which happened for four weeks. All participants had a measure of their Cognitive function before and after training. Measurement of the elderly participants fell into four categories (attention, global cognitive status, executive function, and processing speed of the mind). The results of the study showed that the effects of brain training games conducted were transferred to executive function on their minds than to the processing speed.it further indicated that playing brain age after a five-hour training for four weeks could lead to an improvement in cognitive function which includes the processing speed and executive function
In another empirical study by Ackerman, Kanfer & Calderwood, (2010) to examine the impact of training and transfer on the cognitive ability of individuals, 78 older adults of the age between 50 and 71 years were trained for 5 hours and examined for cognitive improvement. Training and transfer aim at improving the cognitive training response of both the elderly and young people. Under the study by the trio, they use control groups to provide a means of accounting for the effect of training and transfer on the targeted task. The suggestive evidence of each transfer identifies whether the training has a positive impact. The first step used in the experiment was direct training, which results in a positive impact on older people. The findings of the study infer that brain exercise, practice, and reading for domain knowledge improves the cognitive function for both populations.
Brain training of the elderly enables them to acquire knowledge and skills through learning. This has been proven to work by Willis (1986), who provided the older people of the age between 64 to 95 years with 5-hour training programs for preparatory reasoning. The experiment found out the direct effect of the training on the performance of the older people. The results show that brain training improves intellectual abilities, which are knowledge, skills, and understanding. Such a train usually has lasting effects because part of the information learnt is retained. The elderly can learn and acquire new knowledge and skills, which lasts in their minds for a very long time.
Brain training challenges the brain to become more efficient. This is according to prior research in the area that postulates that if the mind is used to handling tough tasks, it will automatize and level its cognitive ability to tackling similar jobs. The reason for this situation is the brain restructuring itself to master the challenge and ready itself for the next challenge (Tanaka et, al. 2009). The training is ideal for regular tasks like driving a car. This research point to evidence that training the brain to master certain tasks positively impacts its performance.
Joubert and Chainay (2018) critically examine the impact of combining cognition and physical training of healthy older people. They evaluate how cognitive and physical training enhances cognition. They also determine the benefits associated with direct and transfer training. By combining prior research from various search tools, they review relevant literature, and their findings indicate that cognitive and brain training positively impacts on cognition. However, in their review, they emphasize that each type of training enhances a different cognitive function.
Furthermore, brain training helps the elderly and the young population in boosting their reasoning. The elderly need to carry on with their daily activities like using public transport, shopping, cooking, farming, and managing personal finance. It is argued in the science of health that people who do complex activities or stimulate their brains with activities such as puzzles, crossword, and learning new skills throughout their lives protect their minds from dementia (Dodell-Feder, Tully, & Hooker, 2015). Therefore, brain training helps in preserving the mental function of the elderly.
Integrating knowledge from various studies point out the benefits that both the young and the elderly derive by continuous engaging their brains on training that boost their cognitive ability. The elderly and the young can reason appropriately; therefore, keeping dementia at bay, their efficiency in mastering tasks increases, and them to acquire vital knowledge and skills that are essential in life.
- Dodell-Feder, D., Tully, L. M., & Hooker, C. I. (January 01, 2015). Social impairment in schizophrenia. Current Opinion in Psychiatry
- Joubert, C., & Chainay, H. (2018). Aging brain: the effect of combined cognitive and physical training on cognition as compared to cognitive and physical training alone – a systematic review. Clinical interventions in aging, 13, 1267–1301. doi:10.2147/CIA.S165399
- Reynolds, G. (2017). Exercise May Enhance the Effects of Brain Training. The New York Times.
- https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/well/move/exercise-may-enhance-the-effects-of-brain-training.amp.html&ved=2ahUKEwisp-_n8ZHlAhVDiFwKHWujCoYQFjARegQIBxAB&usg=AOvVaw2uhw0vk8a501oaLDCB1R-g&cf=1- accessed on 10th October 2019.
- Nouchi, R., Taki, Y., Takeuchi, H., Hashizume, H., Akitsuki, Y., Shigemune, Y., … & Kawashima, R. (2012). Brain training game improves executive functions and processing speed in the elderly: a randomized controlled trial. PloS One, 7(1), e29676. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029676
- Schmiedek, F., Lövdén, M., & Lindenberger, U. (2010). Hundred days of cognitive training enhance broad cognitive abilities in adulthood: Findings from the COGITO study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2, 27. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2010.00027
- Tanaka, K., Quadros, A. C., Santos, R. F., Stella, F., Gobbi, L. T. B., & Gobbi, S. (January 01, 2009). Benefits of physical exercise on executive functions in older people with Parkinson’s disease. Brain and Cognition, 69, 2, 435-441.