A recently released set of findings from Finland and Sweden suggests that multimodal everyday training (multi-approach meant to fit with everyday life) can help promote brain stimulation and cognitive abilities among aging patients who have begun to experience forgetfulness.
The so-called FINGER study, which stands for Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (the acronym presumably makes more sense in Finnish) was a two-year long examination. The 1,260 participants, all between age 60 and 77 and who were already forgetful, were divided into two groups: 629 in the control group and 631 in the test group. The test group received multimodal everyday training in the following forms:
- Walks with simultaneous conversation
- Balance and memory training on a computer
- Healthy diet
- Cardiovascular monitoring
- Social activities
By the end of the study, the test group showed a significant improvement in cognitive ability, specifically processing speed and executive function (inhibition, working memory, etc.) compared to the control.
The findings also support previous research out of MedUni Vienna’s department of neurology, which indicated that inactive people have an 80 percent higher Alzheimer’s risk than those who engage in regular physical exercise.
Although the FINGER study did not look at treating Alzheimer’s specifically, it may have some implications for the disease. The brain changes that cause Alzheimer’s take place decades before early symptoms start to appear, so finding ways to enhance function early on or even during initial stages is important. Being able to use multimodal everyday training could be one option for this, or at least for other forms of dementia. The ultimate goal of brain stimulation and other treatment ideas is to delay or mitigate the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s so that aging patients are able to experience life without being plagued by the full degenerative effects of the disease.
World Alzheimer’s Day is Sept. 21, and the FINGER study is only one of what will likely be many pieces of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and brain function research to appear in the coming days.