The Ageless Brain: Training Memory, Reasoning, and Speed

Check out the results of the ACTIVE trial, a long-term randomized controlled trial looking at the benefits of cognitive training (memory, speed of processing, reasoning) on everyday functioning.

Booster training produced additional benefits especially for the reasoning training groups. The mean age studied? 73 years old. The training process was pretty lightweight, too (10 sessions). Wonder what they might have seen if they carried out a more intensive program?

Another thought that came to my mind was whether a future study might be especially valuable if it included a visual-associational training component to the cognitive therapy. Age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer / Mild Cognitive Impairment-related changes are more concentrated more in frontal and temporal structures - whereas visual areas are relatively preserved. Perhaps if visual learning pathways were driven, researchers would not have seen so steep a decline in all groups by 5 years.

This may just another one of those cases in which medical science focused more on deficits than preserved strengths.

JAMA: Cognitive Training of Seniors Helps Cognitive Performance and Everyday Function pdf

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  1. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Great post. I fully agree that

    - given that this took only 10 sessions, the result is pretty impressive. could we expect to go to the gym 10 times now and find a significant difference in 5 years? I'll go further and venture to say that, with better cross-training programs (why train only one cognitive skill at a time?), the results would be better

    - we could focus more on development and change vs. decline. Some skills, such as pattern recognition and emotional self-regulation, typically improve with age. Others don't-so let's focus on training them.

  2. I hope they do a longer study, over years would be intresting.