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Training improves cognitive abilities of older adults

Training sessions for 2 hours a week for 5 weeks improved the memory, concentration and problem solving skills of healthy independent adults 65 years and older who participated in the nation's largest study of cognitive training. The training not only improved participants' cognitive abilities, but the improvement persisted for 2 years after the training, according to initial findings from the multi-site trial of Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly, or ACTIVE.*

"The trial was highly successful in showing that we can, at least in the laboratory, improve certain thinking and reasoning abilities in older people," says Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Associate Director for the Behavioral and Social Research Program at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). "The findings here were powerful and very specific. Although they did not appear to make any real change in the actual, daily activities of the participants, I think we can build on these results to see how training ultimately might be applied to tasks that older people do everyday, such as using medication or handling finances. This intervention research, aimed at helping healthy older people maintain cognitive status as they age, is an increasingly high priority."

The study, published in the November 13, 2002, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was funded by the NIA and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), two components of the National Institutes of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to Dr. Patricia A. Grady, Director of the NINR, "The ACTIVE trial provides encouraging preliminary findings that we may be able to conserve or improve some cognitive abilities in older adults not currently having problems in these areas. How this training may affect those who later experience cognitive deficits is a tantalizing question waiting to be answered."

The study looked at several types of cognitive training and
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Contact: Jeannine Mjoseth
mjosethj@nia.nih.gov
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
12-Nov-2002


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