Date of Award

Spring 2013

First Advisor

Helen Murphy


The effects of cognitive and exercise intervention training in patients labeled as ‘at-risk’ for Alzheimer’s disease were examined. Sixty-eight cognitively intact older adults between the ages of 60-85, with a positive family history of Alzheimer’s disease, and reportedly not currently engaged in regular exercise, were recruited. In a 12-week controlled clinical trial, participants were randomly assigned to participate in one of three conditions: (a) cognitive intervention training, (b) exercise intervention training, or (c) control group. All participants were administered a standardized battery of neuropsychological tests of episodic memory and sustained attention at baseline and at the 12-week follow-up session. In addition, each week, the participants completed the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly, PASE, a commonly used self-report outcome measure for assessing activities of daily life. Results indicated a statistically significant difference for the interaction between the cognitive intervention group and the control group for portions of the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) and Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised (BVRT-R) neuropsychological tests. However, there were no statistically significant interactions between the groups for the Letter Number Sequencing (LNS) or Symbol-Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) neuropsychological tests. In addition, results indicated that there were no significant differences among the groups and the PASE scores at the follow-up session. Findings are discussed in the context of the possibility that cognitive intervention programs could lead to increased memory skills in at-risk Alzheimer’s disease adults and that exercise interventions must be reevaluated and refined before any definitive conclusion can be drawn concerning the efficacy of this treatment.


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