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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.6 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2012

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642012DN06010006 

ORIGINAL ARTICLES

Training of executive functions in healthy elderly: Results of a pilot study

TREINO DE FUNÇÕES EXECUTIVAS PARA IDOSOS SAUDÁVEIS: RESULTADOS DE UM ESTUDO PILOTO.

Thaís Bento Lima-Silva1 

Aline Teixeira Fabrício1 

Laís dos Santos Vinholi e Silva2 

Glaúcia Martins de Oliveira2 

Wesley Turci da Silva2 

Priscilla Tiemi Kissaki1 

Anna Pereira Fernandes da Silva2 

Tamiris Fessel Sasahara2 

Tiago Nascimento Ordonez1 

Thalita Bianchi de Oliveira1 

Flávia Ogava Aramaki1 

Adriana Buriti3 

Mônica Sanches Yassuda4 

1Bachelor's Degree in Gerontology, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo SP, Brazil;

2Undergraduate Student in Gerontology, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, USP Brazil;

3Psychologist, Santa Marcelina Hospital, São Paulo SP, Brazil ;

4Associate Professor in Gerontology, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, USP Brazil.

ABSTRACT

Executive functions (EF) refer to the cognitive skills necessary to formulate a goal, plan, execute plans effectively, and to perform self-monitoring and self-correction. Several aspects of EF change during the normal aging process.

Objectives:

To train skills associated with executive functions in the elderly and to detect possible impact on objective EF tests and self-reports of functional status.

Methods:

A cross-sectional study involving an intervention and pre and post testing was carried out. Study participants included 26 seniors assigned to an experimental group (EG) and given six sessions of cognitive intervention, and 17 seniors assigned to a control group (CG) who completed pre and post testing only. All participants were enrolled in an Open University for the Third Age. The following tests were used to measure outcome: the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), the Story subtest of the Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test (RBMT) (versions A and B), semantic verbal fluency fruit category, and verbal fluency with phonological constraints (FAS), WAIS-III Digit Span, Clock Drawing Test (CDT), Trail Making Part A and the Pfeffer Functional Assessment Questionnaire (PFAQ). Delta scores were calculated (post-test score minus pretest score) to assess the impact of the intervention.

Results:

In the post test, the CG showed significant improvement on the RBMT Story recall and Digit Span but a decline in verbal fluency. The EG remained stable in terms of pre and post test scores.

Conclusions:

The intervention did not enhance performance on the EF tests. It is noteworthy that the EG received only a small number of sessions which may not have been sufficient to generate improvement. Alternatively, the lack of group differences observed could be associated to participation in other workshops offered at the university.

Key words: elderly; executive functions; cognitive training

RESUMO

As funções executivas (FE) representam as capacidades cognitivas necessárias para formular um objetivo, planejar, executar planos de modo eficiente, monitorizar-se e autocorrigir-se. As FE sofrem alterações durante o processo de envelhecimento normal.

Objetivos:

Treinar habilidades relacionadas às funções executivas em idosos e detectar impactos em testes objetivos de FE e em autorrelato de desempenho funcional.

Métodos:

Trata-se de um estudo transversal, com intervenção e pré e pós testagem. Participaram do estudo 26 idosos que compuseram o grupo experimental (GE) que receberam intervenção cognitiva de seis sessões e 17 idosos do grupo controle (GC) que completaram apenas pré e pós testagem, matriculados em atividades em uma Universidade Aberta à Terceira Idade. Como medida de eficácia foram usados o Mini-Exame do Estado Mental (MEEM), Escala de Depressão Geriátrica (EDG), o subteste História do Teste Comportamental de Memória de Rivermead (versões A e B), fluência verbal categoria semântica frutas (FV), e com restrição fonológica (FAS), Dígitos da bateria WAIS-III, o Teste do Desenho do Relógio (TDR), Trilha A e o Questionário de Avaliação Funcional de Pfeffer (PFAQ). Para a avaliação do impacto da intervenção foram calculados deltas (escore do pós-teste menos o escore do pré-teste).

Resultados:

No pós-teste o GC apresentou melhora no resgate da História e no desempenho nos Dígitos, entretanto, apresentou pior desempenho em fluência verbal. A pontuação do GE permaneceu inalterada.

Conclusões:

Os dados sugerem que a intervenção não gerou impacto nos testes associados ao conceito de FE. Destaca-se que os idosos do GE receberam um número limitado de sessões que pode não ter sido suficiente para gerar alterações. Alternativamente, a ausência de diferença entre os grupos pode estar associada à participação em outras oficinas oferecidas na universidade.

Palavras-chave: idosos; funções executivas; treino cognitivo; envelhecimento

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.

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Received: December 12, 2011; Accepted: February 10, 2012

Mônica Sanches Yassuda. Av. Arlindo Bettio, 1000 / Prédio I-1 / sala 322-J - 03828-000 São Paulo SP - Brazil. E-mail: yassuda@usp.br

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest

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