Healthy Brain, Healthy Body Study


The purpose of this study is to assess whether a community-based cognitive training intervention on visuospatial working memory, speed of processing, and inhibition tasks over a 10-week period improves outcomes related to walking in older adults. Two proximal measures of performance, gait and balance, are being assessed. It is hypothesized that cognitive training will lead to distinct improvements in three cognitive functions—visuospatial working memory, speed of processing, and inhibition—and these three cognitive processes will result in improvements in gait and balance. It is expected that improvements in gait and balance will ultimately decrease the incidence of falls.

This project will provide necessary data to support a subsequent career development (K01) application or independent research project grant (R01) to conduct an efficacy trial exploring the association between cognitive training and balance and gait in older adults. This data, in addition to the data collected as part of the dissertation, will offer critical insight into the practicalities of offering this type of health promotion program in different settings. For instance, the first iteration of this study was conducted in Independent Living facilities. Participant recruitment in this venue proved to be a challenge; however program adherence and retention was high. I anticipate that participant recruitment at senior centers will be easier, but it is unknown whether adherence and retention will remain high in this setting. It is my hope that the cumulative data from the present study and the dissertation study will provide convincing evidence for a future K01/R01 application demonstrating both the feasibility of conducting this program in various settings and provide pilot data trending toward an association between cognitive training and balance/gait.

Funding Agency

National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health


Principal investigator
Renae L. Smith-Ray, PhD

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