The sound of new steps

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Government-funded study examines cognitive training over 10 years
Joe Hardy
By Joe Hardy
Lumosity VP of Research
Few studies have been published on the long-term effects of cognitive training, thanks to the difficulty of mounting such a large-scale research endeavor. But back in 2002, a longitudinal study funded by the National Institutes of Health sought to close this information gap. Thousands of older adult participants received a short period of in-person cognitive training from specialists — and many years down the line, these same adults were reevaluated to see whether the training had left a measurable impact.

This past January saw the publication of results collected at this study’s 10-year mark. Researchers found that participants who received certain types of in-person training were still performing at or above baseline on tests of those trained cognitive abilities, compared to a control group.

During the original 2002 study published in theJournal of the American Medical Association, these older adults (average age 73.6 at the time) had been randomly split into groups that trained either memory, speed of processing, or reasoning. Training was administered through small-group sessions with specialists who taught and demonstrated strategies; led participants through example problems and exercises; and provided feedback. Training participants spent 10-12 hours over the course of several weeks with their trainers, while a control group of older adults received no training.

Before training, all participants took a test to establish their baseline performance for each of these cognitive abilities. 1, 2, 3, 5, and now 10 years after the training, participants were tested again using the same assessments.

Of the over 1,200 participants still in the study at the 10 year mark, 73.6% of those who trained reasoning and 70.7% of those who trained speed of processing were still performing at or above baseline, compared to 60% and 50% of participants in their respective control groups. Though memory improvements had been measured as recently as the 5 year mark, they were no longer visible in these 10-year results.

On average, participants who trained any of the three cognitive skills 10 years ago also self-reported that they were better able to perform the tasks of daily life when compared to the control group.

This research has been picked up in the Washington Post, NBC, NPR, Reuters, and more. And while it relied on in-person training and did not involve the Lumosity product, we’re always excited to hear of cognitive training results gathered from populations of this magnitude. We hope that you share our enthusiasm for learning about research that that may uncover more about the potential of the human brain.

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Cognitive training is good for you!

I've used lumosity myself, and loved it. I especially liked the memory tasks and verbal fluency. The math was not for me, but that's simply because I panic whenever I see a number.



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