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Computer Brain Training Exercise May Reduce Risk of Dementia by 29%, says Study

A computer brain training exercise designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention can help seniors reduce risk of dementia by nearly a third

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Computer Brain Training
Computer Brain Training may reduce risk of dementia. Pixabay.

New York, Nov 18: A computer brain training exercise designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention can help seniors reduce risk of dementia by nearly a third, suggest results of a 10-year study.

This exercise is known as “speed of processing training”, “useful field of view training”, or “UFOV training.

“Speed of processing computer brain training resulted in decreased risk of dementia across the 10-year period of, on average, 29 per cent as compared to the control,” said lead study author Jerri Edwards from University of South Florida in the US.

“When we examined the dose-response, we found that those who trained more received more protective benefit,” Edwards added.

The study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, enrolled 2,802 healthy older adults in the US and followed them as they aged from an average of 74 to 84 years.

Participants were divided into a control group or one of three intervention arms using different types of cognitive training.

One group received instruction on memory strategies and another group received instruction on reasoning strategies. The third group received individualised computerised speed of processing training.

Researchers found no significant difference in risk of dementia for the strategy-based memory or reasoning training groups, as compared to the control group.

However, as compared to the control group, the computerised speed training group showed significantly less risk of dementia — averaging a 29 per cent risk reduction.

When reviewing the impact of each computerised speed training session completed, researchers found those who completed more sessions had lower risk.

The computerised speed training task or the computer brain training exercise was designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention, including both divided and selective attention exercises.

The computer brain training exercise was developed by Karlene Ball of the University of Alabama Birmingham and Dan Roenker of Western Kentucky University – both in the US. (IANS)

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Research Finds That Drug Can Curb Dementia’s Delusions

About 8 million Americans have dementia, and studies suggest that up to 30% of them develop psychosis.

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Television actor Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell talks about Drugs
Television actor Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell pose with a placard in front of Downing Street ahead of a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, Britain. VOA

A drug that curbs delusions in Parkinson’s patients did the same for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in a study that was stopped early because the benefit seemed clear.

If regulators agree, the drug could become the first treatment specifically for dementia-related psychosis and the first new medicine for Alzheimer’s in nearly two decades. It targets some of the most troubling symptoms that patients and caregivers face — hallucinations that often lead to anxiety, aggression, and physical and verbal abuse.

Results were disclosed Wednesday at a conference in San Diego.

Unmet need for treatment

“This would be a very important advance,” said one independent expert, Dr. Howard Fillit, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.

Although the field is focused on finding a cure for dementia and preventing future cases, “there is a huge unmet need for better treatment” for those who have it now, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer.

The drug is pimavanserin, a daily pill sold as Nuplazid by Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. It was approved for Parkinson’s-related psychosis in 2016 and is thought to work by blocking a brain chemical that seems to spur delusions.

Dementia Drugs
Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Pixabay

About 8 million Americans have dementia, and studies suggest that up to 30% of them develop psychosis.

“It’s terrifying,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cummings of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. “You believe that people might be trying to hurt you. You believe that people are stealing from you. You believe that your spouse is unfaithful to you. Those are the three most common false beliefs.”

How the study worked

He consults for Acadia and helped lead the study, which included about 400 people with dementia and psychosis. All were given a low dose of the drug for three months, and those who seemed to respond or benefit were then split into two groups. Half continued on the drug and the others were given dummy pills for six months or until they had a relapse or worsening of symptoms. Neither the patients nor their doctors knew who was getting what.

Independent monitors stopped the study when they saw that those on dummy pills were more than twice as likely as those on the drug to relapse or worsen — 28% versus nearly 13%.

There were relatively few serious side effects — 5% in the drug group and 4% in the others. Headaches and urinary tract infections were more common among those on the drug. Two deaths occurred, but study leaders said neither was related to the drug.

The drug could become the first treatment for dementia
The drug could become the first treatment specifically for dementia-related psychosis. Pixabay

Carrillo said the study was small, but the drug’s effect seemed large, and it’s not known whether the federal Food and Drug Administration would want more evidence to approve a new use.

Risk of death

Current anti-psychotic medicines have some major drawbacks and are not approved for dementia patients.

“They’re often used off label because we have very few other options,” Fillit said.

ALSO READ: Researchers Associate Social Media Use to Eating Disorder in Adolescents

All carry warnings that they can raise the risk of death in elderly patients, as does Nuplazid.

Cost could be an issue — about $3,000 a month. What patients pay can vary depending on insurance coverage. (VOA)