London, Jan 21 (Agencies): Struggling to remember names and faces as you get older? Just engage in a conversation with someone you know, as scientists say such simple exercise can help boost your memory.

Researchers from the University of Zurich found that holding a simple conversation could be effective as playing popular 'brain-training' games that have grown into a multi-million dollar industry.

For their research, the scientists compared 36 studies on memory exercises conducted between 1970 and 2007.

They found some studies suggested both healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment could remember words better after some memory training.

However, other research found this improvement was matched by those asked to hold a discussion about art.
"Based on published studies, it seems that alternative interventions do just as well as cognitive interventions," Dr Mike Martin, the co-author of the study, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

The finding that social interaction could be just as effective at keeping memory loss at bay comes after British charity 'Age Concern' warned more than a million people aged over 65 feel trapped and isolated in their own homes.

According to Dr Martin, most people, although not all, experience a cognitive decline in old age. This can include memory loss and inability to plan, pay close attention or perform tasks as quickly as before.

The normal rate of decline seems to accelerate in some people, leading to a condition called mild cognitive impairment that some researchers see as a risk factor for developing dementia later in life, he said.

Although several studies have suggested that brain-training exercises could delay or reverse signs of cognitive decline, the studies and the types of training "vary considerably", said Dr Martin.

He, however, said that the findings do "not mean that longer, more intense or different interventions might not be effective, but that those which have been reported thus far have only limited effect".

Researchers need to improve how they coordinate their studies to ultimately determine ways of preventing cognitive decline in old age, he added.

The new findings were published in the journal Cochrane Library.