15 June 2007

Puzzles boost your brain

A daily crossword puzzle or similar highly-focused task might help sharpen your all-round powers of concentration, new research suggests.

A daily crossword puzzle or similar highly focused task might help sharpen your all-round powers of concentration, new research suggests.

"There are a growing number of activities, from crossword puzzles to Sudoku, promoted as ways to keep our minds young. Our early data suggest that attention training is indeed a way to reduce older adults' susceptibility to distracting stimuli and improve concentration," Jennifer Mozolic, a graduate student at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said in a prepared statement.

She was scheduled to present the findings Thursday at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping conference in Chicago.

Older adults tend to combine information from their senses more readily than younger adults. This tendency - called sensory integration - can make it difficult to ignore distracting sights and sounds and concentrate on a specific task.

Helps block out distractions
The early results of this study of 23 people, ages 65 to 75, suggested that eight weekly one-hour attention training sessions improved their ability to block out distractions and concentrate. The sessions involved either a structured one-on-one mental workout or a group brain exercise programme.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to analyse the blood flow and activity in the participants' brains while they completed assigned tasks.

The study is ongoing and will eventually include a total of 66 participants.

"Behavioural and imaging data support our hypothesis that attention training can reduce multi-sensory integration. This suggests that attention training is a potential way to improve sensory processing by reducing older adults' susceptibility to distracting stimuli," Mozolic said. – (HealthDayNews)

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June 2007


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