More people are engaging in cognitive training thanks to smartphone apps.
An estimated $1.9 billion was spent on apps for brain health and training last year, a significant increase compared to $475 million in 2012 as more people focus on keeping their mind keen as they age, research firm SharpBrains reported. Several apps have been created to help combat cognitive decline and prevent or slow dementia.
Although more apps are being downloaded, research hasn’t definitively shown them as effective.
“There will be one study that shows a benefit, but then there will be another study that fails to show a benefit,” neurologist Dan Press, who also runs the cognitive-neurology unit at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told MarketWatch.
Sarah Lenz Lock, executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health, said the cognitive training apps do show promise, but said people “shouldn’t expect it to be a magic bullet.”
Researchers said the most important way to maintain and improve brain function is to do a combination of brain training, keeping a healthy diet and exercise routine and monitoring vascular health, MarketWatch reported. A study on more than 1,200 people ages 60 to 77 in Finland showed that those who received health tips and were enrolled in programs to monitor their exercise, brain training, cardiovascular risk and nutrition had an overall better cognitive function after two years.
Other studies showed that those who engaged in specific brain training activities improved their performance on certain tasks and protected them against depression.