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Aging Lessons: Training gives elderly practical assistance

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10:28am, December 20, 2006

Sessions aimed at improving memory, reasoning, or visual concentration in healthy elderly people yield notable cognitive returns, even 5 years later, a long-term study suggests. The training largely protected the participants from age-related declines in the ability to perform everyday tasks such as preparing meals, doing housework, and managing money.

A handful of booster sessions in reasoning or visual concentration, administered about 1 year and 3 years after the initial sessions, offered an even better defense against cognitive losses that interfere with daily activities, says a team led by psychologist Sherry L. Willis of Pennsylvania State University in State College.

"It's surprising to see such durable effects of cognitive interventions on general abilities in the elderly," says psychologist and study coauthor Michael Marsiske of the University of Florida in Gainesville. "It's intriguing to think about what the effects might be with more training."

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