From an NIH press release:
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
4:00 PM ET
or Linda Joy
Mental Exercise Helps Maintain Some Seniors’ Thinking Skills
Certain mental exercises can offset some of the expected decline in older adults' thinking skills and show promise for maintaining cognitive abilities needed to do everyday tasks such as shopping, making meals and handling finances, according to a new study. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Dec. 20, 2006, Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that some of the benefits of short-term cognitive training persisted for as long as five years.
The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly, or ACTIVE, Study is the first randomized, controlled trial to demonstrate long-lasting, positive effects of brief cognitive training in older adults. However, testing indicated that the training did not improve the participants’ ability to tackle everyday tasks, and more research is needed to translate the findings from the laboratory into interventions that prove effective at home.
The ACTIVE trial was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), both components of NIH. Sherry L. Willis, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., and co-authors report the findings on behalf of ACTIVE investigators at the study’s six sites: Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston; Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Pennsylvania State University; University of Alabama at Birmingham; and University of Florida, Gainesville (in collaboration with Wayne State University, Detroit), and the data coordinating center at the New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Mass.
“This large trial found that community-dwelling seniors who received cognitive training had less of a decline in certain thinking skills than their peers who did not have training. The study addresses a very important hypothesis — that interventions can be designed to maintain cognitive function,” says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “The challenge now is to further examine these interventions and others to see how they can be employed in real-world settings.”
“Cognitive decline is known to precede loss of functional ability in older adults. It affects everyday activities such as driving or following instructions on a medicine bottle,” says NINR Director Patricia A. Grady, Ph.D., R.N. “Research to identify effective ways of delaying this decline is important because it may help individuals, and our aging citizenry, maintain greater independence as they grow older.”
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