(HealthDay News) – Advanced cognitive training is beneficial for elderly persons, with long-term improvements seen for reasoning and speed-of-processing training, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

George W. Rebok, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the effects of cognitive training on cognitive abilities and everyday function over 10 years in a trial involving a sample of 2,832 persons (mean baseline age, 73.6 years) living independently. Participants were randomized to three intervention groups involving 10 training sessions for memory, reasoning, or speed of processing, and booster sessions 11 and 35 months after initial training, or to a no-contact control group.

The researchers found that there was less difficulty in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) for participants in each intervention group (effect sizes: memory, 0.48; reasoning, 0.38; and speed of processing, 0.36). At 10 years and at a mean age of 82 years, about 60% of training participants were at or above their baseline level of self-reported IADL function, compared with 50% of controls (P<0.05). At 10 years, the effects of reasoning and speed-of-processing interventions on their target cognitive abilities were maintained (effect sizes: reasoning, 0.23; speed of processing, 0.66). The effects of memory training were no longer maintained. For the reasoning and speed-of-processing interventions, booster training produced additional and durable improvement in performance (effect sizes, 0.21 and 0.62, respectively).

“These results provide support for the development of other interventions, particularly those that target multiple cognitive abilities and are more likely to have an effect on IADL performance,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Posit Science; one author disclosed ties to Compact Disc Incorporated for the development of an electronic version of the ACTIVE memory intervention.

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