We ran a second phase of the Brain Test Britain experiment with trainers aged 60 and over. Our scientists are currently conducting important additional analysis of this group.
As well as investigating whether brain training can improve your brain, our scientists were interested in whether regular training could help delay the effects of aging on the brain. We asked participants aged 60 and over to complete additional benchmarking tests, and then to continue training for a full twelve months rather than just six weeks.
The resuts of this longer study are still being analysed. We will report the results as soon as they are known. In the mean time, you can read more about the results from the first six weeks of the trial.
Since the beginning of the Brain Test Britain experiment, brain trainers aged 60 and over have been asked to complete two additional benchmarking tests that people under the age of 60 were not asked to complete. By examining the data for 60+ benchmarking over 12 months, our scientists hope to find out if there are any benefits of brain training that translate into benefits in everyday activities.
The two additional benchmarking tests are:
The Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL): This is a questionnaire commonly used to gauge a person’s ability to live an independent life. It focuses on eight everyday tasks, including meal preparation, finances and shopping. Brain trainers are asked to rate themselves on the level of difficulty they have with each task.
Verbal Recall Test: This test looks at ‘verbal episodic memory’. This is your ability to recognise words that you have heard before and where you heard them. First a list of words is read out to you. You then take a break, during which you complete other benchmarking tests. Later, you return to the Verbal Recall Test where a second list of words is read out to you. You must identify which words were in both the first and second list.
There are four ‘standard’ benchmarking tests that all Brain Test Britain trainers complete: Numbers, Star Finder, Circle and Square and Watch the Windows.
Results for three of these tests are the same in the 60+ group as they are for any other age group, except for Circle and Square. For Numbers, Star Finder and Watch the Windows, there is no meaningful improvement in benchmarking scores between first and second benchmarking sessions for 60+ brain trainers.
However, for Circle and Square there was a moderate improvement in the Reasoning and a small improvement in the Non-Reasoning groups, compared to the Control group, for 60+ brain trainers. The key thing will be to see whether these benefits continue for 12 months and whether they begin to have an impact on other tests and every day life before drawing a final conclusion.
BBC Lab UK is a website where you can take part in real science experiments.