By Nikki Harper
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
We live in an information-rich world, which is a wonderful thing. However, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by so much information, especially if you are an older person. The younger generation, who grew up not knowing anything different, may well find themselves at ease with the digital onslaught, but for older generations who lived most of their lives pre-internet, the wealth of multimedia and digital information can sometimes be something of an onslaught.
Cognitive multi-tasking is a key skill in this day and age. We instinctively understand that these cognitive abilities may slow down in older age – but is there a way of keeping them fresher or sharper?
For the digitally frazzled, good news comes from a recent study by the University of California, Irvine. The study shows that, with practice, people in their 70s and 80s can become as fast and adept at digital multi-tasking as people in their 20s and 30s .
The UCI study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, leveraged data from Lumosity, an online platform devoted to brain training games. Researchers zeroed in on one game in particular, “Ebb and Flow”, which involves switching tasks at speed while interpreting shapes and movement. Millions of people have played this game in recent years – to obtain their sample, researchers randomly analyzed data for 1000 game players in two groups: those aged 21 to 80 who had played fewer than 100 times, and those aged 71-80 who had played more than a thousand times.
The results showed that those in the older age group who had had regular practice, could match the results of those aged 20-30 who had had no practice. The brain training isn’t a miracle result by any means – and researchers found that once the younger age group had had more than 10 practice sessions, the older age group could no longer match them – but it does add weight to the theory that brain exercises can help to keep cognitive abilities flexible and functioning into old age.
Previous studies had shown promise for brain training exercises in helping to slow down the early stages of Alzheimer’s , so this new study is another important link in the understanding of how cognitive exercises can help older brains.
This is vital research, because as our improved lifestyles and medical care allow us to live longer, improved longevity must be accompanied by improved elderly cognition if quality of life, rather than mere length of life, is to be extended. “We show that with consistent upkeep, cognitive youth can be retained well into our golden years,” says lead study author Mark Steyvers, a UCI professor of cognitive sciences .
-  https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/08/13/1906788116
-  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320093.php
-  https://news.uci.edu/2019/08/19/online-brain-games-can-extend-in-game-cognitive-youth-into-old-age-uci-led-study-finds/
About the author:
Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and current editor for Wake Up World.