But there’s little scientific evidence to support these industry claims, said Loyola University Medical Center neurologist Xabier Beristain, MD, who treats patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
“These games are not a panacea,” Dr. Beristain said.
Brain-training games require the user to perform certain tasks on a computer. The games may make the user more skilled at narrow tasks, but there’s little evidence they’ll make the user smarter overall or less likely to experience cognitive decline, Dr. Beristain said.
Dr. Beristain said there is more compelling scientific evidence that the level of education, staying socially active and learning a challenging skill such as digital photography can improve cognitive function in older adults.
“Getting regular exercise also is an important part of maintaining mental health and memory,” Dr. Beristain said.
Dr. Beristain also recommends a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and antioxidants.
A recent consensus statement signed by leading cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists concluded “there is no compelling scientific evidence to date” that brain games reduce or reverse cognitive decline. Furthermore, the statement said, “exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxiety of older adults about impending decline.” The statement was offered by the Stanford Center on Longevity in California and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.
Dr. Beristain is an associate professor in the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. In addition to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Beristain’s specialties include movement disorders, botulinum toxin injections, restless legs syndrome, sleep disorders and general neurology.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.