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Brain Training Games Enhance Cognitive Function in Healthy Subjects

Abdulrahman Al-Thaqib, Fahad Al-Sultan, Abdullah Al-Zahrani, Fahad Al-Kahtani, Khalid Al-Regaiey, Muhammad Iqbal, Shahid Bashir

(Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2018; 24:63-69

DOI: 10.12659/MSMBR.909022

BACKGROUND: Brain training games (BTG) are believed to play a major role in improving cognitive functions. The current study evaluated if BTG showed positive impact on attention and memory functions compared with baseline visit in healthy subjects.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The study was carried out from October 2015 until April 2016 in the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University and in King Khalid University Hospital (KKUH), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
We enrolled 51 normal healthy subjects to use a computerized cognitive training game (Lumosity) for exercises that target a range of cognitive functions, including attention, processing speed, visual memory, and executive functions for about 15 min per day, at least 7 days per week, for 3 weeks. The control (n=21) group did not perform the training. Both groups took the CANTAB test before and 3 weeks after training for various cognitive functions (flexibility, memory, attention, speed, and problem solving). Serum samples were used to study the brain-derived growth factor (BDNF) and apolipoprotein (Apo) E (APOE) levels.
RESULTS: A significant improvement in Lumosity performance index was observed in the active group compared to the control group by the end of training (p-value 0.001). After the training, a statistically significant difference in most of the CANTAB measures, such as attention-switching task (AST), mean correct latency, AST switching cost, AST mean correct latency (congruent), AST mean correct latency (incongruent), AST mean correct latency (blocks 3 and 5) [non-switching blocks], AST mean correct latency (block 7) [switching block], and MOT mean correct latency (all P=0.000). However, in the control group, significant improvements were not observed. A positive correlation between pattern recognition memory (PRM) and APOE was found and people who had higher ApoE levels had faster response.
CONCLUSIONS: An improvement in different cognitive domains was noted, including attention and motor speed. However, this study warrants further research to determine the long-term effect on other cognitive functions and in different groups (e.g., elderly vs. adults).

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