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Cognitive Training Sharpens Some Skills in the Elderly, Helping Mostly with Daily Activities — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 14, 2014

Cognitive Training Sharpens Some Skills in the Elderly, Helping Mostly with Daily Activities

By Joe Elia

Older people undergoing cognitive training that's focussed on one of three domains show modest benefits over the long term, with the greatest effect being on their instrumental activities of daily living, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Some 2800 community-living older adults were randomized to one of four training groups: memory, reasoning, speed-of-processing, or none (the control group). Training occurred over roughly 12 hours spanning 6 weeks.

At 10 years, the subjects (now averaging age 82) underwent testing in all three domains. Those who'd undergone memory training did no better on memory tests in comparison with the other groups. The reasoning and speed-of-processing groups excelled in their areas, but with modest effect sizes.

All trained groups did significantly better than controls in measures of instrumental activities of daily living such as meal preparation, shopping, finances, and hygiene.

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