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Influence of combined physical and cognitive training on cognition: a systematic review

Lauenroth, Andreas ; Ioannidis, Anestis E. ; Teichmann, Birgit

In: BMC Geriatrics, 16 (2016), Nr. 141. pp. 1-14. ISSN 1471-2318

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Background: Numerous daily activities require simultaneous application of motor and cognitive skills (dual-tasking). The execution of such tasks is especially difficult for the elderly and for people with (neuro-) degenerative disorders. Training of physical and cognitive abilities helps prevent or slow down the age-related decline of cognition. The aim of this review is to summarise and assess the role of combined physical-and-cognitive-training characteristics in improving cognitive performance and to propose an effective training scheme within the frame of a suitable experimental design. Methods: A systematic electronic literature search was conducted in selected databases. The following criteria were compulsory for inclusion in the study: 1. A (Randomized) Controlled Trial (RCT or CT) design; 2. Implementation of combined physical and cognitive training, either simultaneously (dual task) or subsequently - at least one hour per weekly over four weeks or more; 3. Cognitive outcomes as a study’s endpoint. Results: Twenty articles met the inclusion criteria. It appears that either simultaneous or subsequently combined physical and cognitive training is more successful compared to single physical or single cognitive exercise. Training characteristics like length, frequency, duration, intensity and level of task difficulty seem to determine cognitive performance. However, the articles show that cognitive improvement seems to remain somewhat confined to trained cognitive functions rather than generalising to other cognitive or daily-living skills. Conclusion: Due to methodological heterogeneity among studies, results need to be treated with caution. We critically discuss the role of training characteristics and propose a potentially effective training intervention within an appropriate experimental design.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: BMC Geriatrics
Volume: 16
Number: 141
Publisher: BioMed Central
Place of Publication: London
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2016 08:38
Date: 2016
ISSN: 1471-2318
Page Range: pp. 1-14
Faculties / Institutes: Service facilities > Netzwerk Alternsforschung
Subjects: 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences
610 Medical sciences Medicine
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