'Boot camp' could help brain grow, prevent dementia

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
'Boot Camp' Could Help Brain Grow, Prevent Dementia

Researchers say their brain "boot camp" showed it's possible to stave off dementia by actually making the brain grow.

The study, published in the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease, examined 127 adults with an average age of 70 –– all with mild cognitive impairment, which is believed to up the risk for Alzheimer's.

For five hours a week, participants were trained to meditate, reduce stress, get better sleep and participate in brain games. They were also advised to follow a Mediterranean diet.

After three months, 84 percent of the participants saw improvements in at least three of 10 areas of cognitive functioning.

The 10 areas examined are related to memory, attention, language, mental processing speed and more.

To see whether these improvements reflected actual changes in the brain, 17 participants were given an MRI. Nine showed at least a 1-percent growth in their hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with learning.

One of the researchers told Time magazine, "When the hippocampus grows by 3 percent, it's almost like having a hippocampus six years younger."

Five of the 17 patients lost the usual amount of mass in the hippocampus, so there will have to be more studies done to determine any link between the "boot camp" approach and brain size.

But the fact that so many patients saw cognitive gains from making a few easy lifestyle tweaks is still a promising find.

Learn about how sensory cues can help patients with dementia and Alzheimer's:

12 PHOTOS
Dementia, Alzheimers - Nursing homes using more sensory cues to help patients
See Gallery
'Boot camp' could help brain grow, prevent dementia
Olga Deacon, who has dementia, speaks with her granddaughter, Chris Boyce, in a replica 1940s kitchen, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Olga Deacon, who has dementia, recalls to her granddaughter, Chris Boyce, that her brothers fought in World War II in front of a memory wall, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A calendar from 1942 is posted in a replica kitchen Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Decima Assise, who has Alzheimer's disease, and Harry Lomping dance to old music in a replica mid 1900s living room Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Decima Assise, who has Alzheimer's disease, and Harry Lomping dance to old music in a replica mid 1900's living room Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A 1940s era replica kitchen is shown on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Vintage containers of food are displayed in a 1940s replica kitchen Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A vintage camera is display in a replica mid 1900s living room Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Olga Deacon, who has dementia, speaks with her granddaughter, Chris Boyce, about past travels in front of a memory wall, left, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The Easton Home is seen on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Decima Assise, who has Alzheimer's disease, and Harry Lomping walk the halls, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at The Easton Home in Easton, Pa. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are increasingly using sight, sound and other sensory cues to stimulate memory in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

More from AOL.com:
Eating lots of fish in pregnancy linked to obesity risk for kids
Scientists say this behavior can make men more attractive to women
The marriage capitals of every state

Read Full Story

People are Reading