I would like to share with you information presented at an Alzheimer’s symposium by ACTIVE (Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly) that found memory training has lifelong benefits. The research from the study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The ACTIVE study was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, and conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It ran from March of 1998 to October 1999, and then a two-year follow-up to December 2001. Their purpose of the research was to see if cognitive training interventions could maintain functional independence in elders by improving basic mental abilities. They wanted to see if memory training would be productive in allowing the aging population to be able to maintain their quality of life and do such routine activities as managing their finances, driving and being able to take care of themselves.
A at that time few studies had addressed whether improving cognitive functions might have short- or long-term effects on activities related to living independently. According to the findings, people who received memory training showed no visible decline in memory performance after 5 years, as opposed to those in the same demographics who did not receive any kind of memory training at all.
Six ACTIVE centers across the eastern portion of the United States took part in the study, and enrolled 2.832 healthy individuals with minimal amount of dependency. Those who continued on and participated in the research underwent close scrutiny of mental and physical functions over several years.
Positive results were found in those individuals who received memory training at the end of the study. These individuals showed improved ability to perform instrumental activities in their daily life, had better health-related quality of life, and remarkably participants not only prevented age-related memory loss, but were able to speed up their processing of information as well as prevent normal age-related memory loss from occurring.
They utilized three different memory training interventions and a booster memory training workshop was provided 11 months later for 60% of the participants. The conclusion “supported the effectiveness and durability of the cognitive training interventions in improving targeted cognitive abilities. Training effects were of a magnitude equivalent to the amount of decline expected in elderly persons without dementia over 7- to 14-year intervals.” Because of minimal functional decline across all groups, they believe a longer follow-up is likely required to continue to observe memory training effects on everyday function. This study adds great strength to the “use it or lose it” philosophy currently gaining acceptance in the neuroscience community.
Clinicaltrials.gov – http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00298558