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Increasing Stimulus Duration Improves Attention And Memory Performance In Elderly With Cognitive Impairment

Yizhar Lavner, I. Rabinowitz
Published 2015 · Medicine, Psychology

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Objectives: In this study, we investigated whether increasing stimulus duration could improve performance on a test of attention and short-term memory in cognitively impaired individuals. Methods: A computer-generated forward digit span test was administered to 65 patients with mild cognitive impairment or dementia (28 intervention and 37 controls). After point of failure, testing in the intervention group was continued at the same rate, but with an average 150% digit lengthening to 800 ms. Testing of controls was continued using the standard digit span test. Results: In the intervention group, 13/28 (46.4%) improved their digit span test performance, compared to 2/37 (5.4%) in the control group (p = 0.00005). Conclusion: Cognitively impaired elderly participants improved performance on a test of attention and short-term memory, when stimulus duration was increased in proportion to elongation of the finger tap touch-phase previously found in a similar cohort. A possible mechanism for the effect of increased stimulus duration on attention and short-term memory is discussed.
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