Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The ecology of cognitive training and aging
by Potter, Anya I., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Boston, 2011, 153; 3490004
Abstract (Summary)

Older individuals represent the fastest growing portion of the population in the United States, and are threatened by the loss of mobility and independence. The present study examined the relationship of a computer-based training program, specifically Posit Science Cortex™ with InSight DriveSharp™, and performance on neuropsychological measures and an on-road driving paradigm in a normal aging sample. Participants, ranging in ages 60-75 and randomly assigned to the treatment group, completed the DriveSharp™ as did, subsequently, a wait-list control group. Identical neuropsychological and on-road assessments were conducted at each visit. Neuropsychological assessment of visual attention included the Useful Field of View test (UFOV; Edwards, Vance, et al., 2005), Attention Network Test (ANT; Fan, McCandliss, Sommer, Raz, & Posner, 2002), and the Trailmaking test (Franzen, Paul, & Iverson, 1996; Reitan, 1986). Results indicated improved performance on neuropsychological measures of attention after intervention. Analysis of the waitlist control groups across three visits, revealed possible practice effects for the ANT. However, this was not true for the UFOV test, which, revealed significant improvements between visits 1 and 3, suggesting that practice effects may not be a factor. During the on-road driving tasks, standard deviations of horizontal and vertical eye gaze were measured while participants completed auditory and visual working memory tasks. Given the improvements within the waitlist control group across three visits, it is unclear whether the improvements are resulting from the training or rather comfort in the vehicle. Overall results indicated there were trends in increased standard deviation of both horizontal and vertical eye gaze during the auditory working memory task. More robust improvements were seen during the visual working memory exercise, with significant improvements in horizontal gaze. These findings suggest more horizontal scanning behavior and possibly an increased field of view while driving. These results provided evidence that cognitive training may improve not only performance on neuropsychological tests but also on more ecologically valid outcome measures of driving. However, limitations of the current study may be addressed in future research by using a larger sample size, providing better control of practice effects on neuropsychological testing, and incorporating more direct measures of driving.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nestor, Paul G.
Commitee: Blaser, Erik, Pomplun, Marc, Reimer, Bryan
School: University of Massachusetts Boston
Department: Clinical Psychology (PhD)
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Aging, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Aging, Cognitive training
Publication Number: 3490004
ISBN: 9781267101860
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