. Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. JAMA. 2006 Dec 20;296(23):2805-14. PubMed.

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  1. The paper by Willis et. al. is definitional, for the work differentiates the effects that different cognitive tasks have on instrumental activities of daily living. Cognitive tasks such as training for verbal episodic memory, inductive reasoning, tacting/visual search and identification (speed of processing) have different effects on the elderly population.

    Willis et al. report that "the reasoning group reported significantly less difficulty in the instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) than the control group (effect size, 0.29; 99 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.03-0.55). Neither speed of processing training (effect size, 0.26; 99 percent CI, -0.002 to 0.51) nor memory training (effect size, 0.20; 99 percent CI, -0.06 to 0.46) had a significant effect on IADL."

    In the Berlin Aging Study the progression of personal life investment (PLI) (which can be correlated with Willis and colleagues’ IADL) in the elderly shows that differential motivational energies—one based on obligation and the other based on choice—are temporally different. Schindler et al. (2006) report that the obligatory PLI remains stable among 70-101 year olds. But those based on choice, optional PLI, were reduced in the 80-90-year-old transition.

    Considering choice and obligation and transitional age differences, the robust effect of inductive reasoning on facilitating the performance of ADLs can also be elucidated given transitional age effects of obligatory and optional personal life investments. Since Willis and colleagues’ sample was of a mean age of 73.6 and Schindler et al. 80-90 years of age, that could mean that personal life investment effect could have confounded inductive reasoning effect on IADL, needing further research.

    Furthermore, Veiel et al. (2006) report that much of the visual search effect/speed of processing—85 percent of the variance—was as a function of eye movements and speed and not age per se. Thus, the finding points to training of elderly adults towards improvement of eye movements and speed, as opposed to speed alone as reported by Willis et al., to have had no significant age and IADL effects.

    References:
    Schindler I, Staudinger UM, Nesselroade JR. Development and structural dynamics of personal life investment in old age. Psychol Aging. 2006 Dec;21(4):737-53. Abstract

    Veiel LL, Storandt M, Abrams RA. Visual search for change in older adults. Psychol Aging. 2006 Dec;21(4):754-62. Abstract

    References:

    . Development and structural dynamics of personal life investment in old age. Psychol Aging. 2006 Dec;21(4):737-53. PubMed.

    . Visual search for change in older adults. Psychol Aging. 2006 Dec;21(4):754-62. PubMed.