Augmenting Cognitive Training in Older Adults: The “ACT Study”

otsp-banner-2New study investigates investigates brain stimulation as a method of strengthening cognitive training effects in older adults.

Have you sometimes forgotten a phone number, walked to another room to complete an errand but forgotten what it was while walking, or failed to notice a car approaching until it was right next to you? Occasional lapses in memory and attention may not seem significant when we’re young, but we might wonder about the implications of such lapses as we age, and about whether we can do anything to minimize them.

In the normal course of aging, about 40 percent of individuals 65 or older have age-associated memory loss. Normal aging is also associated with steady reductions in attention, speed of processing and complex reasoning. Only about 1 percent of adults will go on to develop dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, each year. But what about the vast majority of older adults who experience changes in mental functioning that may, even without dementia, come to adversely affect their everyday functioning and independence? Is there a way to mitigate this age-associated process? Could this help to slow or prevent dementia onset?

A few weeks ago, the National Institute on Aging announced that it would fund a UF grant application that would test the efficacy of certain methods designed to slow the process of age-associated memory loss and potentially prevent onset of dementia. This 5-year, $5.7 million grant is titled Augmenting Clinical Training in Older Adults: The “ACT Study.” The lead principal investigator is Adam Woods, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of aging and geriatric research at UF’s College of Medicine and assistant director of the Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research Program, known as CAM-CTRP. He is joined by two other PIs:  Michael Marsiske, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology at UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions, and Ronald Cohen, Ph.D., professor and Evelyn F. McKnight chair for clinical translational research in cognitive aging and director of the CAM-CTRP.

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