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Impact Of Working Memory Training Among The Elderly

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Question:

Discuss about the Impact of Working Memory Training Among the Elderly.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction

Human beings just like computers have got memory system that enable them execute various functions in their lives. To add on various cognitive roles such as language mastery, reading and learning is mainly aided by a working memory (WM).  By definition and according to Klimova1, working memory “is a theoretical construct referring to the structures and processes associated with our ability to keep information in mind while we actively use and respond to the information.” Research has proven beyond doubt that this memory usually degenerates as the age of a human being goes beyond a certain time. However, it is not known neither has it been established, a particular time in a human being where the degeneration starts.

Statement of the problem

Whereas it is also found in other age groups, the cases are usually not pronounced as in the elderly. The few cases found in other age groups may be young is usually due to other medical conditions other than old age. Numerous researches have been carried out to establish the cause and come up with a treatment to help the condition but in vain. It is just recently after the search for a cure for the condition proved futile that the research shifted to the brain. They thought of how to modify what the brain can do. They were thinking from the premise that certain activities can influence cognitive processes of the brain. It is therefore against this background that this research study wants to know whether the computer – oriented programs for training has an impact on working memory

Objectives of the study

 The main objective of this research study was to establish whether computer-based working memory training leads to improvement of the capacity of working memory.

Significance of the study

This research study is very important since it is one of its own kind. Researchers and psychologists will find this piece of work important as they will be able to learn the extent of working memory that can be influenced by employing computer training programs.

Literature Review

A research done by Basak2 on 1500 participants of the ages between 20 and 85 years to assess the working memory on visual and verbal aspects reported that the visual aspect began deteriorating earlier in the females than the males. On the verbal aspect, the study recorded an almost equal rate of deterioration between the two genders.

Another research study conducted by Saunders4 and Johansson3 on the memory of patients who had brain injury pointed out those individuals who trained exhibited an improvement in the working memory examination tests. Compared to those who were subjected to a control group, they did far much better. This research therefore concluded that, “structured and intense computerized working memory trainings improve people’s cognitive skills”.

Another study by Takeuchi5 associates overeating with memory loss. It asserts that accumulation of more calories at an advanced age may lead to cognitive impairment though in mild proportions. The study was conducted on about 1200 individuals aged between 70 and 79 years. They were then categorized into three groups according to the number of calories they took in a day. The research concluded from their findings that those that fed on more calories in a day had double chance of suffering mild cognitive problems.

 

Methodology

Research design

This research study employed a descriptive design. This is mainly because the variables involved were mostly quantitative hence a quantitative research method.

Data sampling

The study used both probability and non-probability sampling methods. Non-probability sampling method that was employed in this study was purposive sampling.

Data collection methods

This research study had a total of thirty six respondents who included both male and females. Their ages were spread between 65 years and 79 years. These participants were subjected to a working memory training for with the aid of standard computer methods. After the first session of training they were subdivided into two equal groups of 18 individuals each. This division was done randomly without using any trick. One group which was the control group was allowed to continue with the initial standard computer methods training while the test group was subjected to a new training. They used a memory game application which is hand-held. They were then tested and results recorded.

Data analysis

The data collected was analyzed through excel worksheet and statistical package for social sciences, SPSS.

Result

The bar chart below shows the comparison of scores of the test group before and after the training

 

The bar graph above is a grouped bar graph that compares PRE and POST CANTAB scores for the test group. It can be observed keenly that the test scores after the training was administered were higher than those before administering the training.

Disscusion

The purpose of this research study was to establish whether computer memory game app training on working memory have got a positive impact. Prior to conducting the research, the assumption was this computer training boosted the working memory of the elderly people. Administering tests before and after computer enabled training on the memory was apt for this study since apart from sounds, the elderly participants would also be able to see appealing graphics that could enhance one’s memory to remember. And as such the results found in these tests after the working memory training is 99% reliable. The test administered was tailored in such a way that they could easily be understood by the elderly individuals. The process and methods applied while collecting information in such a psychological test had to appear soft and friendly. The study ensured this because since this is a psychological research dealing with the brain, participants had to be put in a sweet frame of mind. This is because any distraction caused in the process of the study could interfere with the mood hence the working memory of the participants.

Coincidentally, after conducting the experiment, the results indeed confirmed the study’s prior assumptions that the training boosts the working memory of the individuals. This is manifested by the test scores of evaluations done before and after the trainings. It was found that the scores improved after training. A comparison in marks of all the 18 participants showed that there was an improvement. There was no even one individual that scored a lower mark than the initial mark after the working memory training. In the control group, significant difference was witnessed in terms of the marks that were scored before and after the working memory training. In fact, in some cases the marks after they were subjected to control working memory training were lower than before the training. This is an indication or evidence that training working memory has got a positive impact on the elderly individuals.

However, there were still some aspects of this research that were not able to be tested. Just as in previous researches on working memory, when or a particular time when the memory starts deteriorating among the elderly has proven difficult to establish. Similarly, in this research study, parameters or variables with which to use to measure the time period was difficult to identify. As also recorded in other researches mainly in psychology, individuals just like in this study could not tell with a lot of certainty the time when they realized they were suffering from memory loss.

Conclusion

From the research results, it can be concluded that computer memory game apps training on working memory has got a positive impact on working memory. This is evidenced by the CONTAB memory scores which were lower before WM training and got higher after WM training. However, a lot of research has to be done on this topic to address the gaps or questions that have remained unanswered for a long time. Gaps such as the age around which problems with memory starts and whether it is unique to the elderly alone or applicable to the young too need to be addressed by future researches. Though memory problem among is widespread among the elderly only as this study has established. The difference in working memory capacity before and after enhancing the memory is not much significant. This can be established from the test scores where the range hardly went beyond three marks. This could mean so many things for this research. Either the computer training is not the best method of training the working memory or the working memory cannot just change beyond a certain limit. Another dimension of this could be that the working memory can only be trained for a particular period of time only after which it just degenerates to the status it was in before subjection to training. It can also be concluded that human working memory is so powerful and do not deteriorate much even as one advances in age. This is evidenced the high marks that were scored by the participants. Most of the participants were able to recall over eighty percent of the staff after the working memory training.

 

References

  1. Klimova, B. Computer-based cognitive training in aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2016; 8, 313.
  2. Basak, C., Boot, W.R., Voss, M.W., et al. Can training in a real-time strategy videogame attenuate cognitive decline in older adults? Psychology and Aging. 2008.
  3. Johansson B, Tornmalm M: Working memory training for patients with acquired brain injury: effects in daily life. 2012,
  4. Saunders NL, Summers MJ: Attention and working memory deficits in mild cognitive impairment. J Clin Exp Neuropsychology 2010, 32(4):350–357.
  5. Takeuchi H, Sekiguchi A, Taki Y, Yokoyama et al: Training of working memory impacts structural connectivity. J Neurosci 2010,
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