26 May 2016
A search is underway for healthy adults aged over 60 to join a University of the Sunshine Coast research project to find a drug-free treatment for dementia – but there is a catch.
They must also be complete novices at computer-based brain training and mindfulness.
USC’s Associate Professor of Neuropsychology and Mental Health Mathew Summers said 60 participants were needed to take part in the eight-week trial comparing computer-based cognitive training with mindfulness training.
The aim of the trial is to assess the effect of each type of training on attention, mood and well-being, in a project being conducted by USC PhD candidate Ben Isbel.
“If successful, the program could deliver an easily adopted and drug-free treatment to assist those at risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in later life,” Dr Summers said.
All testing and training will be conducted at USC’s new Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience – Thompson Institute at Birtinya.
Dr Summers, who specialises in assessing disorders of brain function and dementia, joined USC last year as the first academic at the institute.
“As we age, our ability to control our attention and quickly manipulate new information begins to slow and many of us notice that our attention is not as sharp as it once was,” he said.
“Our team will compare mindfulness-based cognitive training against computer game-based training to assess whether either can improve cognitive performance in older adults, potentially reducing the impact of age-related cognitive decline.”
The team is looking for people over 60 years of age with no prior experience with mindfulness or meditation techniques, and who have no significant medical illnesses.
“Participants will be tested before and after training on special measures of attention, while state-of-the-art EEG recording of neural activity is taken to assess any enhanced performance,” Dr Summers said.
“We hope that by showing how cognitive training can improve attention in healthy adults, the same can then be done in elderly adults with cognitive decline such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early stage dementia”.
This research project has been funded by the Judy Henzell Memorial Scholarship.
People interested in joining the study can contact Ben Isbel at the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience – Thompson Institute on 5430 1133 or Ben.Isbel@research.usc.edu.au, or Associate Professor Mathew Summers on 5456 3758 or firstname.lastname@example.org
— Clare McKay