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2014 Grants - Jak
Impact of Combined Behavioral Interventions on Cognitive Outcomes in MCI
Amy Jak, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
2014 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant: Non-Pharmacological Strategies to Ameliorate Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Because Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder, many researchers are testing therapeutic methods for slowing the disease process. Studies have found that exercise can help maintain brain cell health and reduce the risk of dementia. Cognitive training programs, which involve exercise of memory, attention and other cognitive functions, have also been investigated as potential interventions to help maintain brain function. Such therapies may have more beneficial long-term effects if employed early in the disease process.
Based on preliminary findings, Amy Jak, Ph.D., and colleagues have found that simple, everyday forms of activity may help delay the onset of dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI involves subtle problems with memory, and it may be a preliminary stage of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will use their current study to validate these findings. They will administer three different therapy programs to participants with MCI. One group of participants will undergo the walking program, another the computer-based cognitive training program and a third group will undergo both the walking and cognitive training therapies combined. Over the course of their study, Dr. Jak and colleagues will assess cognitive function, the ability to independently perform daily activities and a person’s quality of life. These studies will help determine what types of interventions or combination of interventions provide the most benefit. This work could point to a novel, low-cost therapy for people at risk of dementia that could help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.