Staying in Shape Mentally Helps Older Adults Maintain Thinking Skills
Staying in shape mentally could help older folks maintain their thinking skills according to a new study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research.
Akinso: Staying in shape mentally could help older folks maintain their thinking skills according to a new study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research. The study showed that 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. Dr. Jeff Elias the NIA's Chief of the Cognitive Aging Program in the Behavioral and Social Research Program said the research showed that some of the benefits of short-term cognitive training persisted for as long as five years.
Elias: I think what it means for the elderly in the long run is that certainly old brains can be trained. That is working in these areas to try and improve ones performance in memory, ones performance in reasoning or ones performance in speed of processing is possible. Speed of processing was the area people improved the most in. 87 percent of the people who had the speed of processing training improved immediately after training. 74 percent improved in reasoning and 26 percent improved in memory. So memory was the most difficult for people to achieve improvement in. So it's also the most complex and there's many more ways to forget things than there are, for example, to see something in a pattern or to use your visual speed of processing so memory is a more complex process. So not surprising that people did not quite as well in that. Nevertheless if you're an average older individual chances are if you wish to improve your memory by using these different strategies you could.
Akinso: People in the memory, reasoning, and speed of processing groups attended up to 10 training sessions lasting 60 to 75 minutes each, over a five to six week period. The memory group learned strategies for remembering word lists and sequences of items, text, and story ideas and details. The reasoning group learned strategies for finding the pattern in a letter or word series and identifying the next item in a series. The speed of processing group learned to identify an object on a computer screen at increasingly brief exposures, while quickly noting where another object was located on the screen. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.