The Best Brain News of 2016: Three studies show we can boost our brains at any age

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As far as the neuroscience community is concerned, 2016 was a year that led us to breakthroughs, hope and optimism. With the help of technologies such as the MRI and fMRI, brain researchers have been able to determine before-and-after results of cognitive training and even see changes in the brain in real time. Here are some of the best brain-related studies that support the idea of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change at any age) and our ability to improve our brains with dietary changes, cognitive training and aerobic exercise.

1. Vegetable compounds improve cognition in old age.

A study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society looked at the impact of lutein and zeaxanthin—natural plant chemicals called carotenoids that are found in a variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits—on cognition in adults ages 65 to 86. They found that higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina correlated with improved neural efficiency on memory tasks. [SOURCE]

2. LearningRx one-on-one brain training creates new connections in the brain.

A Randomized Control Trial (RCT) testing LearningRx’s ThinkRx personal brain training program found significant physical changes in the participants’ brains after training.

In the study, 30 high school students were randomly assigned to one of three groups: ThinkRx, digital training, or study hall (control) for a 15-week training period. All students underwent cognitive testing and MRIs pre- and post-training. Analysis of cognitive testing scores found that training groups scored significantly higher than controls on multiple tasks, with the most significant gains occurring in auditory processing (analyzing, blending and segmenting sounds).

Even more exciting: fMRI analysis by Dr. Christina Ledbetter, Neuroscientist and Research Fellow at LSU Health Sciences Center, revealed that after cognitive training:

  • During the resting state, multiple regions of the brain showed significant changes in connectivity
  • The brain’s network was more efficient
  • Network changes in the brain were linked to gains in auditory processing

“Using fMRI, we looked at underlying brain changes related to gains in auditory processing following LearningRx training,” explains Dr. Ledbetter. “We found that changes in brain connectivity occurred between the auditory cortex and cortical areas involved in cognitive processing, and that the degree of change correlated with gains in auditory processing.”

The results of the analysis—“Analysis of Resting State Functional Connectivity in a Cognitive Training Intervention Study”—have been published in LearningRx’s 48-page 2016 edition of “Client Outcomes and Research Results”  and were presented at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience conference by Dr. Ledbetter and Dr. Amy Moore, Director of the Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research.

3. Aerobic exercise improves cognition in old age.

A team of researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine examined older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in a randomized, controlled trial of physical exercise. After six months, magnetic resonance imaging scans of the participants’ brains showed that those who took part in the aerobic program had improved significantly more in executive function compared to a group that did stretching only. [SOURCE]

With all this good news, why not make 2017 the year to boost your brain? Find out more about how personal brain training can help at www.LearningRx.com.

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