By Todd Taylor
The University of Florida will serve as a study site for the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training, or PACT, study exploring whether computerized brain training exercises can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.
The PACT study, led by the University of South Florida, recently received a five-year, $44.4 million NIH National Institute on Aging grant to expand the project, a large-scale primary prevention trial. The study is expected to enroll 7,600 healthy adults 65 and older with no signs of cognitive impairment or dementia at various study sites across the U.S.
“While a wide array of pharmaceutical approaches have failed to provide effective change in Alzheimer’s prevalence to date, behavioral interventions like cognitive training have shown strong promise for not only remediating age-related declines in thinking and memory skills, but also altering the rate of conversion from healthy aging to mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Adam J. Woods, Ph.D., principal investigator for UF’s study site and an associate professor of clinical and health psychology in UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions.
The training includes a series of computerized games focused on enhancing cognitive skills that often decline during the aging process. As the participant becomes better at the games, the difficulty of it increases slightly in an effort to promote an ongoing improvement in cognitive function.
Woods expects the PACT study to be the largest clinical trial for cognitive training ever performed upon its completion.
“If successful, cognitive training provides not only an easily accessible intervention that can be completed at home, but also an intervention absent the side effects common to pharmaceutical approaches,” said Woods, associate director of UF’s Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory.