Mentor: Professor Anjali Thapar
Today, Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be the leading cause of dementia in the elderly population. Currently, it is estimated that 4.5 million people in the United States have the disease and this number is predicted to rise to 14.3 million by mid-century. Alzheimer’s patients show various cognitive impairments in areas such as language, recognition and decision-making. Consequently, they experience difficulty with even simple daily tasks. As the population continues to age at an increasingly rapid rate, it is essential that we focus on methods to delay the progression of decline in these cognitive abilities.
For my research, I will be testing the effects of a training program called PSS CogReHab on the decline in cognitive abilities of elderly people who have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. PSS CogReHab is a computer program with eight software packages that include sixty-four activities that have been designed to focus on skills such as motor skills, visual/spatial skills, problem solving, memory and attention. In our lab, we will be working through this training program with patients who show mild Alzheimer’s symptoms, over the course of 24 one hour sessions. The sessions are considerably interactive and most of the tasks include user modifiable parameters which allow us to tailor the program so that participants would not be overwhelmed by the demands of the activities, but will still feel challenged. In addition, we will be testing their memory and attention before and after training, which will allow us to examine the decline of their abilities and compare it to the untrained population.