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Some Smartphone Apps Claim To Improve Brain Function, But Doctor Says Not So Fast

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- You've probably seen the apps on your phone that promise to give your brain a boost. But do they really work?

Thumbs engaged, eyes focused and brain in training mode -- that's how some feel when they play a smartphone-based game.

"Sometimes I'll play Sudoku," one user says.

Some apps are designed and advertised specifically to improve brain function.

"Just my forgetfulness and PTSD, so they say it stimulates your mind," another person says.

Stimulate? Maybe. But improving cognition, preventing Alzheimer's? The short answer is that brain games are not the answer.

"I'm sorry to say but there is nothing scientifically proven that any video game available, even the ones branded as brain stimulator, energizes your brain," said Dr. Domenico Pratico, director of Alzheimer's Center at Temple University. "Nothing has been scientifically proved to be beneficial."

Pratico says what has been proven is a link between a healthy body and a healthy brain.

"People who have high blood pressure, people who have diabetes, people who have high cholesterol level, people with obesity, they are all risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia later in life," says the doctor.

Pratico adds that while brain games are not likely to do any harm, physically socializing or exercising is proven to be more beneficial.

"At the end of the day, a video game is going to put you on a coach, on a chair in front of a screen for half an hour and I think the benefits are not that high," said Pratico.

New research also shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans suffering from Alzheimer's are women.

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