Web-enabled conversational interactions as a method to improve cognitive functions

Results of a 6-week randomized controlled trial

Hiroko Dodge, Jian Zhu, Nora C. Mattek, Molly Bowman, Oscar Ybarra, Katherine Wild, David A. Loewenstein, Jeffrey Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction Increasing social interaction could be a promising intervention for improving cognitive function. We examined the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial to assess whether conversation-based cognitive stimulation through personal computers, webcams, and a user-friendly interactive Internet interface had high adherence and a positive effect on cognitive function among older adults without dementia. Methods Daily 30-minute face-to-face communications were conducted during a 6-week trial period in the intervention group. The control group received only a weekly telephone interview. The cognitive status of normal subjects and those with mild cognitive impairment was operationally defined as a global clinical dementia rating of 0 and 0.5, respectively. Age, sex, education, mini mental state examination score, and clinical dementia rating score were balancing factors in randomization. The subjects were recruited using mass-mailing invitations. The pre- to postintervention differences in the cognitive test scores and loneliness scores were compared between the control and intervention groups using linear regression models. Results Eighty-three subjects participated (41 in the intervention group and 42 in the control group). Their mean ± standard deviation age was 80.5 ± 6.8 years. Adherence to the protocol was high. There was no dropout and mean percentage of days completed of the targeted trial days among the intervention group was 89% (range 77%-100%). Among the cognitively intact participants, the intervention group improved more than did the control group on a semantic fluency test (P =.003) at the post-trial assessment and a phonemic fluency test (P =.004) at the 18-week assessments. Among those with mild cognitive impairment, a trend (P =.04) toward improved psychomotor speed was observed in the intervention group. Conclusion Daily conversations by way of user-friendly Internet communication programs demonstrated high adherence. Among the cognitively intact, the intervention group showed greater improvement in tests of language-based executive functions. Increasing daily social contacts through communication technologies could offer cost-effective home-based prevention methods. Additional studies with a longer follow-up duration are required to examine whether the intervention slows cognitive declines and delays the onset of dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 14 2015

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Cognition
Dementia
Randomized Controlled Trials
Control Groups
Communication
Internet
Linear Models
Language Tests
Loneliness
Sex Education
Executive Function
Microcomputers
Interpersonal Relations
Random Allocation
Semantics
Interviews
Technology
Costs and Cost Analysis
Cognitive Dysfunction

Keywords

  • Communication technology
  • Conversational interaction
  • Internet
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Oregon Center for Aging and Technology (ORCATECH)
  • Prevention study
  • Randomized controlled clinical trial
  • Social engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this

Web-enabled conversational interactions as a method to improve cognitive functions : Results of a 6-week randomized controlled trial. / Dodge, Hiroko; Zhu, Jian; Mattek, Nora C.; Bowman, Molly; Ybarra, Oscar; Wild, Katherine; Loewenstein, David A.; Kaye, Jeffrey.

In: Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions, Vol. 1, No. 1, 14.10.2015, p. 1-12.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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