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Keywords:

  • cognitive training;
  • elderly;
  • cognitive abilities;
  • everyday function;
  • training maintenance

Objectives

To determine the effects of cognitive training on cognitive abilities and everyday function over 10 years.

Design

Ten-year follow-up of a randomized, controlled single-blind trial (Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE)) with three intervention groups and a no-contact control group.

Setting

Six U.S. cities.

Participants

A volunteer sample of 2,832 persons (mean baseline age 73.6; 26% African American) living independently.

Intervention

Ten training sessions for memory, reasoning, or speed of processing; four sessions of booster training 11 and 35 months after initial training.

Measurements

Objectively measured cognitive abilities and self-reported and performance-based measures of everyday function.

Results

Participants in each intervention group reported less difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) (memory: effect size = 0.48, 99% confidence interval (CI) = 0.12–0.84; reasoning: effect size = 0.38, 99% CI = 0.02–0.74; speed of processing: effect size = 0.36, 99% CI = 0.01–0.72). At a mean age of 82, approximately 60% of trained participants, versus 50% of controls (< .05), were at or above their baseline level of self-reported IADL function at 10 years. The reasoning and speed-of-processing interventions maintained their effects on their targeted cognitive abilities at 10 years (reasoning: effect size = 0.23, 99% CI = 0.09–0.38; speed of processing: effect size = 0.66, 99% CI = 0.43–0.88). Memory training effects were no longer maintained for memory performance. Booster training produced additional and durable improvement for the reasoning intervention for reasoning performance (effect size = 0.21, 99% CI = 0.01–0.41) and the speed-of-processing intervention for speed-of-processing performance (effect size = 0.62, 99% CI = 0.31–0.93).

Conclusion

Each Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly cognitive intervention resulted in less decline in self-reported IADL compared with the control group. Reasoning and speed, but not memory, training resulted in improved targeted cognitive abilities for 10 years.