¶ … Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly -- ACTIVE) was a randomized controlled, single-blind trial; the group design was with four groups, which included " ... 3 treatment groups and a control group" (Willis, et al., 2006).
Participant selection: the researchers had recruited 2,832 elder persons (who lived independently, not in nursing homes, for example) that averaged 73.6 years of age; the researchers located the participants from community centers, senior housing, clinics and hospitals in 6 American cities (Birmingham; Detroit; Indianapolis; State College, PA; Boston; and Baltimore). These individuals were originally recruited in April 1998 and there was a follow-up in December 2004; 67% of the original sample participated in 2004.
Assignment to groups: those who were disqualified from the study included: younger than 65; or had serious cognitive decline; had other "substantial impairments"; had Alzheimer disease; were near death or in serious decline; nearly blind, nearly deaf or had trouble communicating adequately; had recent cognitive training; or were simply going to be unavailable for the whole of the study period
Assignment to groups and description of the groups and the treatment: There were four groups in all; three of them were part of the intervention groups included a "narrowly" targeted a certain cognitive ability (memory, reasoning, or speed of processing); for the memory training they used "mnemonic strategies" (including ability to organize, visualize make associations and remember word lists); for the reasoning intervention teaching strategies were used " ... for finding the pattern in a letter ... and identifying the next word or letter in a series"; and for the speed of processing an image was presented on a computer screen at "increasingly brief exposures" (Willis, 2808).
Outcome measures: Besides the initial sessions described above, there were "booster training" sessions at 11 and 35 months; those lasted 75 minutes and were designed to "maintain the improvement in cognitive ability." Cognitive outcomes measured how effective each intervention was in the various cognitive abilities of the participants; for memory training 3 measures of verbal ability were tested; also 3 reasoning abilities were tested; and 3 outcomes were measured for speed of processing (Willis, 2808).
What were the researchers actually testing -- what did they hope to find out?
This was reportedly the first study of its kind to…
The authors of this research studied 690 individuals between the ages 65 and 89 over a five-year period. They called the survey the "Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly" study (ACTIVE) -- and the results indicate that "cognitive reserve reflects the persistence of earlier differences in cognitive functioning" as opposed to the differential rates of "age-associated cognitive declines" (Tucker-Drob, p. 431). Moreover, the authors offer a pair of
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