Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

'Use It or Lose It' Strategy Can Prevent Cognitive Decline

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

'Use It or Lose It' Strategy Can Prevent Cognitive Decline

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- Older adults with normal cognition who engaged in a mental fitness program for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks demonstrated significant improvements in memory and nonmemory tasks, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

Gains were documented in standard neuropsychological tests that measured auditory memory, digit processing, letter-number sequencing, learning, delayed recall, and list memory, according to Dr. Kristine Yaffe, professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

The randomized, double-blind trial, known as IMPACT, included 437 adults with a mean age of 75 years and Mini-Mental State Examination scores of 26 or higher. Of the total number of participants, 215 were assigned to the Brain Fitness Program, a cognitive training program designed to augment brain plasticity (Posit Science Corp., San Francisco), and 222 were assigned to an active control group that engaged in a more standard computer-based educational program. Each group underwent about 40 hours of training.

In the primary outcome measure--the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status [RBANS] Global Auditory Memory score--those in the experimental group demonstrated an average improvement of 3.66 points, compared with 1.30 points for those in the control group (P = .01). The training did not improve scores on the visual memory component of the RBANS.

In addition to the performance demonstrated on the objective test, the mental fitness buffs reported that their cognition had improved on a self-report questionnaire. …

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