Alzheimer's Association International Conference
Alzheimer's Association International Conference
July 26, 2016
2 min read

AAIC data: Cognitive training reduces dementia risk by 48%

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Speed processing training significantly reduced risk for dementia among older adults, according to longitudinal data presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

“The Alzheimer’s Association believes there is sufficiently strong evidence to conclude that lifelong learning and certain types of cognitive training may reduce the risk of cognitive decline,” Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a press release. “These new 10-year findings are evidence that it may hold true for dementia as well as cognitive decline.”

Maria C. Carrillo, PhD

Maria C. Carrillo

To assess efficacy of three cognitive training techniques for incident dementia, researchers conducted the Advance Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study among 2,832 community-dwelling older adults with a mean age of 73.6 years. Study participants completed baseline assessments of cognitive and functional abilities and were randomly assigned to receive strategy-based memory or reasoning training, computerized process-based speed of processing training or no-contact controls. Participants who received training completed up to 10 sessions over 5 weeks. Reassessments occurred post-training and at 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 years. Additional training sessions were offered prior to years 1 and 3.

Overall, 331 participants met criteria for dementia.

Participants who received speed of processing training were 33% less likely to develop dementia over 10 years, compared with controls (HR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.49-0.91; P = .012).

Effects of speed processing training remained significant when adjusting for age, sex, race, mental status, physical function, depressive symptoms and diabetes (HR = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.87-0.98; P = .013).

Dementia incidence was 14% among controls, vs. 12.1% among those who completed 10 or fewer speed processing training sessions and 8.2% among those who completed 11 to 14 speed processing training sessions. This indicated a risk reduction of 48% compared with controls (HR = 0.52; 95% CI, 0.33-0.82; P = .005).

“We believe this is the first time a cognitive training intervention has been shown to protect against cognitive impairment or dementia in a large, randomized, controlled trial,” Jerri Edwards, PhD, of the University of South Florida, said in the release. “Next, we’d like to get a better grasp on what exactly is the right amount of cognitive training to get the optimal benefits.” – by Amanda Oldt


Edwards J, et al. The ACTIVE study: What we have learned and what is next? Presented at: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference; July 24-28, 2016; Toronto.

Disclosure: could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.