Having a sense of control over one’s life may be one of the most crucial markers of successful aging. Aging individuals who feel in control seem to know more about their health, be more likely to take actions to protect it and thus enjoy healthier and longer lives.
Studies have shown that people feel less in control as they get older. Could cognitive or brain training boost such feeling and reverse or at least counteract that trend?
A recent study says the answer is yes.Do you remember the ACTIVE study? This was a large randomized controlled trial with thousands of adults over 65 that included 3 types of cognitive training: memory, reasoning, and speed of processing. The participants were evaluated over several years. Results published in 2006 showed that people got better at the trained tasks and that this improvement was still present 5 years after the intervention. The participants in the speed of processing training also improved in everyday (untrained) tasks such as reading road signs quickly.
.A 2010 study took the ACTIVE data and looked at the effect of the training on the participants’ personal control (sense of control). Results showed that the reasoning and speed of processing trainings resulted in an improvement in sense of control.
Why? The authors reasoned that this was observed because the training focused on maintaining or improving older adults’ cognitive abilities, which preserved their independence during a period of their lives when cognitive abilities and performance are usually declining.
One more reason to celebrate neuroplasticity!
To learn more about the ACTIVE study, check out this interview with Dr. Jerri Edward, Co-Investigator of the study.