Improving General Cognitive Functioning in Seniors via Executive Control Training

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R43AG031593-01A1
Agency Tracking Number: AG031593
Amount: $230,380.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2008
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2007-2
Small Business Information
DUNS: 783579782
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 () -
Business Contact
Phone: (541) 342-7227
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): As people age, their intellectual abilities show substantial decline that generalizes across a wide range of cognitive functions and that is associated with a number of objective costs for both the individual (e.g., dec reased ability to perform activities of daily living, reduced life expectancy, falls) and for society as a whole. However, with the possible exception of aerobic exercise, there is no easily accessible, evidence-based remedy available to counter these nega tive aging effects. In response to this situation, we propose to develop a web-based cognitive training program that targets executive control functions. Because executive control functions are key to higher-level cognitive functioning in a domain-general manner, their enhancement is expected to lead to widespread benefits. Moreover, recent empirical evidence suggests that executive control functions do in fact improve with intensive training and that this improvement generalizes to other non-trained cognit ive abilities. In addition to focusing on executive control functions, the core features of the training program are (a) that it will tailor the intervention exercises to each individual's ability profile, (b) that it will automatically adapt exercise diff iculty to user performance, (c) that it will distribute the necessarily intensive training across short, easily manageable units, and (d) that it will be multi-component in nature, targeting three distinct executive control abilities (working memory, long- term memory control, and executive task management). In Phase I, we plan to design a prototype of the full web-based program consisting of two components (working memory and long-term memory control) and to assess its efficacy in a randomized trial using a sample of 60 older adults and including assessments at posttest and one-month follow-up. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Reduced cognitive functioning due to aging is a major health concern. However, cognitive training programs that target executive control func tions have been shown to generalize to other cognitive functions and may delay the onset and progression of cognitive decline, which would help older adults live longer independently and would have a significant public health impact.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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