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Brain Training Can Keep Seniors Behind the Wheel

Brain Training Can Keep Seniors Behind the Wheel

A new study suggests cognitive training is likely to help an older adult drive for 10 years longer than older adults who do not participate in the training, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University.

“Driving cessation has huge ramifications for seniors,” said Dr. Lesley A. Ross, Pennsylvania State assistant professor of human development and family studies. “It signals an end to freedom, acting as a concrete acknowledgement that you’re declining.”

Ross and colleagues studied the effects of three different cognitive training programs — reasoning, memory, and divided attention — on driving cessation in older adults.

The researchers found that the participants who completed either the reasoning or divided-attention training were between 49 and 55 percent more likely to still be drivers 10 years after the study began than those who did not receive training.

Randomly selected participants who received additional divided-attention training were 70 percent more likely to report still driving after 10 years.

The researchers report their results in the journal The Gerontologist.

For the study, over 2,000 adults aged 65 or older were randomly assigned to one of four groups — reasoning, memory, divided attention training, or no training.

All of the participants were drivers at the start of the program and were in good health. The participants were evaluated seven times over the course of 10 years.

Participants randomized to one of the three types of interventions each received 10 hours of cognitive training. Following the 10 hours of training, participants were randomly selected to receive additional “booster” training.

Both the reasoning and the memory training used pencil and paper activities, while the divided-attention training used a computer program.

The reasoning exercise included brain teasers and taught the participants problem-solving strategies, while the memory training involved categorization of lists of words to help with everyday life, such as a list of errands or a grocery list.

The divided-attention, or speed of processing, training used perceptual exercises where participants were shown several objects on a screen at once for a very brief period of time and then asked questions about what they had seen.

This program was adaptive, becoming more difficult after the first five exercises were completed.

Ross and colleagues plan to continue to study the effect of cognitive training, including the introduction of Xbox Kinect, a computer gaming platform, into future research.

Source: Pennsylvania State University

Brain Training Can Keep Seniors Behind the Wheel

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. (2016). Brain Training Can Keep Seniors Behind the Wheel. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/10/12/brain-training-can-keep-seniors-behind-the-wheel/111035.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 12 Oct 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Oct 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.