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Never Too Old To Learn

WomanNew research shows that doing the right kind of brain exercise can enhance memory and other cognitive abilities of older adults.

The discovery stems from the IMPACT study (Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training) – the largest study ever done on aging and cognitive training using a program available to the public.

In this prospective, randomized, controlled, double blind trial of 524 healthy adults (aged 65 and older), half the participants completed up to 40 hours of the computer-based Posit Science Brain Fitness Program. The other half, who followed the traditional advice that older adults will benefit from new learning, completed up to 40 hours of a computer-based educational training program.

The group that engaged in the Posit Science program showed significantly superior improvements in standardized clinical measures of memory gains of approximately 10 years. This is the first research study to show generalization to untrained standardized measures of memory using a publicly available cognitive training program.

Participants using the Posit Science program also showed significant improvements in how they perceived their memory and cognitive abilities. This included questions about every day tasks such as remembering names and phone numbers or where they had left their keys as well as communication abilities and feelings of self-confidence.

“The changes we saw in the experimental group were remarkable – and significantly larger than the gains in the control group” said Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski of the University of Southern California.

“From a researcher’s point of view, this was very impressive – people got better at the tasks trained, those improvements generalized to various standardized measures of memory, and people perceived improvements in their lives.”

“My memory improved after I participated in the study,” said Marlene Allen of Mill Valley, CA, a study participant. “I also felt better and a lot more energized. I really had fun doing the training.”

Dr. John Smith of San Anselmo, CA is a semi-retired dentist, still working part-time. He finds that he functions well at work and gives the program credit for his interactions there. “I’m quicker to respond to questions and my memory is better.”

“We presented these important results at the Annual Meeting of GSA, because aging experts need to spread the word that cognitive decline is not an inevitable part of aging,” said Dr. Zelinski.

“Doing the properly designed cognitive activities can actually enhance abilities as you age.”

Source: The Gerontological Society of America

Never Too Old To Learn

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Never Too Old To Learn. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/11/19/never-too-old-to-learn/1555.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.