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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The neuropsychological functioning of older adults pre- and post-cognitive training with a brain plasticity-based computerized training program
by Sorenson, Shannon M., M.A., University of Massachusetts Boston, 2012, 65; 1531851
Abstract (Summary)

The present study evaluates the effectiveness of Posit Science Cortex™ with Insight Drive Sharp™ as a tool for improving neuropsychological functioning in a normal aging sample. The purpose of the DriveSharp™ training program is to help an individual improve his or her visual attention and useful field of view. Each exercise continually adapts to the individual's performance so that the training is always at an appropriate level for that specific person. Thirty-two healthy older adult participants were randomly assigned to either the active intervention group (DriveSharp™) or a waitlist control group. Participants in the intervention group were required to engage in training at its recommended dosing (60 min/day, 5 days/week, 2 weeks). All participants were given identical neuropsychological assessments to measure change in various realms of cognitive functioning. The Trail Making Test (Reitan, 1986) and the Useful Field of View test (UFOV; Edwards, Vance, et al., 2005) were used to assess the areas of cognition that DriveSharp™ was designed to train (visual attention and information processing), and the Raven's Progressive Matrices test (Raven, 1962) was used to measure area of cognition that is not directly trained by the program: fluid intelligence. It was hypothesized that participants undergoing the intervention would experience improvement in both the trained and untrained neuropsychological measures, and that the performance gain on the measure of fluid intelligence would be the result of the variance shared between fluid intelligence and the more fundamental, directly-trained cognitive abilities. Results revealed a statistically significant improvement on Trail Making Test A/C and the UFOV Selective Attention subtest for the total sample that received training. There was also evidence of a training effect on the UFOV Divided Attention subtest, though this improvement was not statistically significant. These results indicate that the DriveSharp™ program may improve specific aspects of visual attention related to selective attention and inhibition of irrelevant information. No significant change in performance was seen on the UFOV Processing Speed subtest (a measure of a cognitive area claimed to be directly trained by the DriveSharp™ program). Additionally, there was no significant improvement in performance on the Raven's Progressive Matrices, indicating no improvement due to training in more complex abilities, such as fluid intelligence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nestor, Paul G.
Commitee: Pomplun, Marc, Wainwright, Laurel
School: University of Massachusetts Boston
Department: Clinical Psychology (MA)
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: MAI 51/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Gerontology, Clinical psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Aging, Attention, Brain fitness, Neuroplasticity
Publication Number: 1531851
ISBN: 978-1-267-85251-9
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