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New study: Brain exercise works

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The Star Tribune reports new research shows human brains benefit from exercise.

The National Institutes of Health-funded study compared older adults who did brain exercises with those who didn't. It showed the former group maintained cognitive skills a decade longer than those who received no brain training.

“Our findings suggest that if you want to keep your mind stronger as you get older, you can’t become a couch potato,” said George Rebok, professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

The study found 74 percent of participants who exercised their brains retained reasoning ability 10 years later, compared with 62 percent who did not do the exercises. When it came to speed of information processing, 71 percent did as well or better 10 years later, whereas only 48 percent of the participants who did not get the exercises did as well a decade later. Memory training made no measurable difference.

However the Mayo Clinic posted seven tips for prolonging memory. Those include socializing, eating well, and getting lots of physical exercise.

The idea that our brains benefit from exercise is called neuroplasticity. Recognizing neuroplasticity has led to a surge in the sales of brain games like Lumosity and Memory Matrix. But researchers say, as always, buyer beware.

“Some of these programs are created by well-respected scientists and have a good scientific base supporting them,” he said. “A lot of them don’t.”

Some neuroscientists say it's better to stay mentally stimulating by socializing than by playing online games.

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