Cognitive intervention across the lifespan

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Psychology

Abstract

Cognitive impairment can have a devastating impact on an individual's wellbeing across the lifespan, in both healthy individuals and patients. This is particularly true in age-related cognitive decline, which also has a large impact upon society and the economy. Fortunately, attempts to ameliorate such impairments with scientifically informed cognitive interventions have been promising. Cognitive training (practicing cognitive tasks) has produced improvements in children with developmental disorders, in older adults, and in patients with brain injury. Lifestyle changes, brain stimulation and the use of learned strategies and assistive technologies are extremely encouraging interventions but the time is right for a review and forward look.

The field now faces several challenges. In order to develop useful cognitive interventions, they need to be tailored to individual needs to maximise transferable benefits, but also user-friendly to promote compliance. The proposed seminar series will meet this need by bringing together leading scientists to offer insights from neuroscience and psychology and AgeUK to offer insights into end-user needs.

The seminar series will also foster collaboration among researchers in different disciplines, who adopt different approaches to cognitive intervention, and target different types of cognitive impairment. It is anticipated that this knowledge sharing will lead to demonstrable impact, for example, in changing guidelines regarding the role of multi-approach cognitive interventions that take advantage of the latest neuroscience methods.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit and how?

1) Individuals with cognitive impairment and their caregivers. It is anticipated that the seminar series will lead to the development of effective and informed cognitive interventions to reduce the debilitating effects of cognitive impairment and improve well-being and quality of life. The seminar series will cover cognitive impairment associated with developmental disorders, brain injury and healthy aging, and involve leading academics at the forefront of research into these areas. Our partnership with AgeUK will be particularly important for maximising impact. AgeUK have a wide network of influence and will promote important research findings throughout this network.

2) Society and the economy. In 2007, cognitive decline associated with ageing was estimated to cost the UK over £26 billion per year ("Dementia UK Update" - a report for the Alzheimer's Society, 2014). Average life expectancy in the UK is increasing at more than five hours a day ("Rejuvenating Ageing Research" - a report by the Academy of Medical Sciences, 2009). Therefore it is important to develop scientifically informed strategies to overcome such decline and reduce the associated societal and economic burden. Similarly, developmental disorders and brain injury are associated with both a societal and economic cost. For example, it was estimated that the annual societal cost of ADHD in America is $42.5 billion (Pelham, Foster, Robb, 2007). Research suggests that cognitive intervention can not only improve cognition, but also help to reduce clinical symptoms (Klingberg et al. 2005), thus offering the potential to significantly reduce this societal cost. To ensure that the results of the seminar series have maximal impact, we will involve leading, influential researchers with a wealth of experience in the relevant clinical groups, and aim to share our findings by high impact publications and presentations at conferences. Again, AgeUK's wide network of influence will enabl our findings relating to age-related cognitive decline to achieve maximum impact.

3) Other researchers. Should a combined, interdisciplinary approach to cognitive intervention offer greater benefit in terms of reducing cognitive impairment, this would move the field of cognitive intervention into a new direction, leading to more research and greater impact. We will ensure that our findings are communicated to other researchers globally through high impact publications and conferences. We aim to put together a symposium for the Society for Neurosciences conference, 2017.

References

Klingberg T, Fernell E, Olesen P, Johnson M, Gustafsson P, Dahlström K, Gillberg CG, Forssberg H, Westerberg H (2005). Computerized training of working memory in children with ADHD - a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(2), 177-186

Pelham, W.E., Foster, E.M., Robb, J.A. (2007) The Economic Impact of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32, 711-727

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/N008340/1 17/11/2015 19/05/2016 £30,171
ES/N008340/2 Transfer ES/N008340/1 20/05/2016 19/11/2017 £20,263
 
Description Four seminars and a public engagement event have been delivered while I have been at the University of York:

1) Multi-sensory Integration - Birmingham University - hosted by Professor Joachim Gross - 7th April, 2016.
Talks by Joachim Gross, Chris Petkov, Daniel Senkowski, Christoph Kayser and Uta Noppeney.

2) Training Working Memory and Attention - Birmingham University - hosted by Dr Fiona McNab - 8th April, 2016.
Talks by Theodore Zanto, Carmel Mevorach, Bernhard Hommel and Susanne Jaeggi.
3) Brain Stimulation and Cognition - Oxford University - hosted by Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh - 26-27th September, 2016
Talks by Carlo Miniussi, Gregor Thut, Stephen Jackson, Agnes Flöel, Michael Banissy and Jacinta O'Shea.

4) Cognitive Ageing - University of York - hosted by Prof James Goodwin (Head of Research, Age UK) and Dr Fiona McNab - 29-30th June, 2017
Talks by Patrick Rabbitt, Ian Deary, Arthur Kramer, Joaquin Anguera, Emma Stanmore, Alan Gow, Sarah McGrory and Sarah MacPherson.
Public engagement "Speed Science" event with 36 older adults, representatives from Age UK Research Department and five researchers (Arthur Kramer, Joaquin Anguera, Alan Gow, Sarah MacPherson and Fiona McNab: https://www.york.ac.uk/psychology/news-and-events/news-and-events/2017/stayingsharp/
Exploitation Route At least four collaborations have started as a result of the seminar series.
1) During the dinner at the Cognitive Aging seminar, Jake Beech (Age UK) and Nuzhat Ali (PHE) introduced me to "Social Prescribing". We discussed the possibility of using smart-phone games (which I have used to study cognition in healthy ageing) to provide a large-scale and standard research tool for the evaluation of social prescribing projects, as well as to provide data that would inform social prescribing practice in the future (in particular in the matching of a social prescribing project to an individual to maximise the change of meeting their needs). As a result of this discussion, Nuzhad introduced me to Bev Taylor (NHSE). As a result of these discussions, we have formed a network (including Age UK, Bev Talyor (NHSE), Alan Gow (who I also met as a result of the Cognitive Ageing seminar), Paul Cairns (Computer Science, University of York), representatives from the Health Sciences Department at the University of York, and myself). We are currently working on a grant application for an initial study. The network brings together researchers from different disciplines and who employ different approaches as well as individuals from charities and healthcare settings, and the resulting project will benefit enormously from such an interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach. 2) During the Oxford seminar, I began discussions with Gregor Thut about the idea of combining his EEG techniques to measure oscillations with my approach to investigating different different types of distraction within working memory. This will enable us to address a number of novel questions relating to what limits working memory capacity, and why working memory tends to be reduced in healthy ageing. We are also keen to explore whether this new approach will enable us to develop a measure of the extent to which an individual is employing the compensation I identified at the group-level with a previous study (McNab et al., PNAS, 112(20), 6515-6518). We have designed a study and my PhD student (Charlotte Ashton) will spend 6 weeks in Glasgow in April/May this year, working with Gregor and his team to set up the experiment, collect data from the first few volunteers and an establish the analysis pipeline. She will then continue the study back in York, maintaining communication with Gregor throughout. 3) As a result of the Multi-Sensory Integration seminar, Joachim Gross and Chris Petkov began discussions about a collaborative project. They are continuing to discuss these ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Sectors Education,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://calm.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/esrc-seminar-on-cognitive-training-in-children/
 
Description The "Speed Science" event hosted as part of this award was designed to enhance quality of life, health and creative output in older adults, by sharing research findings relating to "staying sharp" in older age. Feedback form indicated that the older adult participants found it useful. I am now exploring ways in which to fund this as a re-curing event. It is anticipated that the follow-on project on social prescribing, started as a result of this Seminar Series grant, will lead to societal and economic impact, but it is too soon to evaluate that now.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Other
Impact Types Societal

 
Title A new method for the study of working memory and distraction using EEG 
Description This method involves combing my approach to research different types of distraction within the context of working memory with EEG and the analysis of oscillations for attention research (developed by Gregor Thut and his team). 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We have designed the project and data collection for the first study will begin in April. 
 
Description An EEG study of working memory, distraction and healthy ageing. 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Following a discussion between myself and Gregor Thut at the Oxford seminar, where we discussed my idea of combining my approach to the study of distraction within working memory with Gregor's expertise in oscillations analysis, myself, my PhD student (Charlotte Ashton) and I designed the project. This involved discussion using skype and email. Charlotte will spend 6 weeks in Glasgow (April / May 2018) to set up the EEG study, run a few participants and establish the analysis pipeline (which help from Gregor and his team). She will then continue with data collection and analysis when back in York. We plan to produce at least one publication, together with Gregor and his team.
Collaborator Contribution As well as contributing the design of the study, Gregor and his team will host Charlotte's study visit, and assist with the setting up of the experiment and the analysis pipeline (our related experiments have involved fMRI and behavioral approachs, so the study would not be possible without Gregor's expertise with EEG and in particular with analysis of oscillations in the context of attention / working memory paradigms). After that, Gregor will continue to keep in touch and discuss the analysis and results. We plan to produce at least one publication together.
Impact The study has been designed, the stimulus presentation program is being created now and data collection will begin in April.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborative study on multi-sensory integration. 
Organisation Newcastle University
Department Institute of Neuroscience
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am not involved with this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution As a result of the Multi-Sensory Integration Seminar, Joachim Gross and Chris Petkov began discussions about a collaborative project. They are continuing to discuss these ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Impact This is still in the planning stage.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborative study on multi-sensory integration. 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am not involved with this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution As a result of the Multi-Sensory Integration Seminar, Joachim Gross and Chris Petkov began discussions about a collaborative project. They are continuing to discuss these ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Impact This is still in the planning stage.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Network formed for a study to develop and evaluation tool for Social Prescribing and use it to collect data to inform future practice. 
Organisation Age UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Following discussions at the "Cognitive Ageing" seminar, I had the initial idea for the study, discussed further with Age UK, Public Health England, and Bev Taylor from NHSE, and brought onboard Adam Gow (Heriot Watt University), Paul Cairns (York University Computer Science Department) and members of the Health Sciences Department (York University). I also attended the NHS Innovation Expo (Manchester 2017), and held meetings with the Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, and the founders of the Social Prescribing company "Elemental". I am currently working on a research proposal for grant funding.
Collaborator Contribution Age UK have provided contacts at PHE, and they put me in touch with Bev Taylor from NHSE. All partners/collaborators have contributed to discussions and provided input for the research proposal I am currently drafting. Bev Taylor provided information about the NHSE Expo, and put me in touch with Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, who in turn put me in touch with the company "Elemental".
Impact We are currently drafting a research proposal for funding applications. This is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector network, involving academics from Psychology, Computer Science and Health Science, as well as Research Managers at Age UK and Bev Taylor from NHSE.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Network formed for a study to develop and evaluation tool for Social Prescribing and use it to collect data to inform future practice. 
Organisation Heriot-Watt University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Following discussions at the "Cognitive Ageing" seminar, I had the initial idea for the study, discussed further with Age UK, Public Health England, and Bev Taylor from NHSE, and brought onboard Adam Gow (Heriot Watt University), Paul Cairns (York University Computer Science Department) and members of the Health Sciences Department (York University). I also attended the NHS Innovation Expo (Manchester 2017), and held meetings with the Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, and the founders of the Social Prescribing company "Elemental". I am currently working on a research proposal for grant funding.
Collaborator Contribution Age UK have provided contacts at PHE, and they put me in touch with Bev Taylor from NHSE. All partners/collaborators have contributed to discussions and provided input for the research proposal I am currently drafting. Bev Taylor provided information about the NHSE Expo, and put me in touch with Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, who in turn put me in touch with the company "Elemental".
Impact We are currently drafting a research proposal for funding applications. This is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector network, involving academics from Psychology, Computer Science and Health Science, as well as Research Managers at Age UK and Bev Taylor from NHSE.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Network formed for a study to develop and evaluation tool for Social Prescribing and use it to collect data to inform future practice. 
Organisation NHS England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Following discussions at the "Cognitive Ageing" seminar, I had the initial idea for the study, discussed further with Age UK, Public Health England, and Bev Taylor from NHSE, and brought onboard Adam Gow (Heriot Watt University), Paul Cairns (York University Computer Science Department) and members of the Health Sciences Department (York University). I also attended the NHS Innovation Expo (Manchester 2017), and held meetings with the Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, and the founders of the Social Prescribing company "Elemental". I am currently working on a research proposal for grant funding.
Collaborator Contribution Age UK have provided contacts at PHE, and they put me in touch with Bev Taylor from NHSE. All partners/collaborators have contributed to discussions and provided input for the research proposal I am currently drafting. Bev Taylor provided information about the NHSE Expo, and put me in touch with Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, who in turn put me in touch with the company "Elemental".
Impact We are currently drafting a research proposal for funding applications. This is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector network, involving academics from Psychology, Computer Science and Health Science, as well as Research Managers at Age UK and Bev Taylor from NHSE.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Network formed for a study to develop and evaluation tool for Social Prescribing and use it to collect data to inform future practice. 
Organisation University of York
Department Department of Computer Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Following discussions at the "Cognitive Ageing" seminar, I had the initial idea for the study, discussed further with Age UK, Public Health England, and Bev Taylor from NHSE, and brought onboard Adam Gow (Heriot Watt University), Paul Cairns (York University Computer Science Department) and members of the Health Sciences Department (York University). I also attended the NHS Innovation Expo (Manchester 2017), and held meetings with the Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, and the founders of the Social Prescribing company "Elemental". I am currently working on a research proposal for grant funding.
Collaborator Contribution Age UK have provided contacts at PHE, and they put me in touch with Bev Taylor from NHSE. All partners/collaborators have contributed to discussions and provided input for the research proposal I am currently drafting. Bev Taylor provided information about the NHSE Expo, and put me in touch with Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, who in turn put me in touch with the company "Elemental".
Impact We are currently drafting a research proposal for funding applications. This is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector network, involving academics from Psychology, Computer Science and Health Science, as well as Research Managers at Age UK and Bev Taylor from NHSE.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Network formed for a study to develop and evaluation tool for Social Prescribing and use it to collect data to inform future practice. 
Organisation University of York
Department Department of Health Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Following discussions at the "Cognitive Ageing" seminar, I had the initial idea for the study, discussed further with Age UK, Public Health England, and Bev Taylor from NHSE, and brought onboard Adam Gow (Heriot Watt University), Paul Cairns (York University Computer Science Department) and members of the Health Sciences Department (York University). I also attended the NHS Innovation Expo (Manchester 2017), and held meetings with the Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, and the founders of the Social Prescribing company "Elemental". I am currently working on a research proposal for grant funding.
Collaborator Contribution Age UK have provided contacts at PHE, and they put me in touch with Bev Taylor from NHSE. All partners/collaborators have contributed to discussions and provided input for the research proposal I am currently drafting. Bev Taylor provided information about the NHSE Expo, and put me in touch with Caroline Kenyon from the Academic Health Science Network, who in turn put me in touch with the company "Elemental".
Impact We are currently drafting a research proposal for funding applications. This is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector network, involving academics from Psychology, Computer Science and Health Science, as well as Research Managers at Age UK and Bev Taylor from NHSE.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Seminar series partner, co-host of "Cognitive Ageing" seminar and public engagement event 
Organisation Age UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Together with Age-UK I co-hosted both the Cognitive Aging Seminar and the public engagement event. Together with Libby Archer (Research Manager Age UK), I devised the format of the events and put together the agendas. Using my own contacts, and those from Libby, I invited the speakers, promoted the events, dealt with delegate registration and arranged the venue/refreshments and dealt with the health and safety requirements issued by Age UK. I also participated (as a researcher) in the public engagement "Speed Science" event.
Collaborator Contribution Age-UK was a project-partner for the series. They co-hosted both the Cognitive Aging Seminar and the public engagement event. They provided useful contacts for the Cognitive Aging seminar (for speakers and delegates, including Alan Gow, Ian Deary, and two representatives from Public Health England). They also provided local Age UK contacts, who participated in the public engagement event. Libby Archer (Age UK Research Manager) and I put together the list of speakers and the devised the format of both the Cognitive Aging seminar and the public engagement event. Together with others from her team, she gave a presentation to the older adults, and put together an information pack for each delegate. James Goodwin (Head of Research at Age UK) gave an introduction and a summary for the Cognitive Ageing seminar. All representatives from Age UK contributed fully to the research discussions as well as to discussions with older adults and the public engagement event. **Please note that although Age UK offered to contribute their venue for the "Cognitive Aging" seminar and public engagement event, it was much more cost-effective to hold the seminar in York (with reduced accommodation, transport and catering costs). By holding these events in York, we were able to spend the money we had saved on additional speakers for this seminar. ***
Impact During the dinner at the Cognitive Aging seminar, Jake Beech (Age UK) and Nuzhat Ali (PHE) introduced me to "Social Prescribing". We discussed the possibility of using smart-phone games (which I have used to study cognition in healthy ageing) to provide a large-scale and standard research tool for the evaluation of social prescribing projects, as well as to provide data that would inform social prescribing practice in the future (in particular in the matching of a social prescribing project to an individual to maximise the change of meeting their needs). As a result of this discussion, Nuzhad introduced me to Bev Taylor (NHSE). As a result of these discussions, we have formed a network (including Age UK, Bev Talyor (NHSE), Alan Gow (who I also met as a result of the Cognitive Ageing seminar), Paul Cairns (Computer Science, University of York), representatives from the Health Sciences Department at the University of York, and myself). We are currently working on a grant application for an initial study. The network brings together researchers from different disciplines and who employ different approaches as well as individuals from charities and healthcare settings, and the resulting project will benefit enormously from such an interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach. Furthermore, the "Speed Science" discussions at the public engagement event represented a two-way knowledge exchange, which not only improved our research impact through the dissemination of research findings, but fed-back to us ways in which our research might better address needs. Written feedback from the older adults was obtained by Age UK and is attached to their letter. The positive feedback highlighted that the older adults found it useful and intended to incorporate insights from the research into their daily routines.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Interviews for the Age UK radio station "The Wireless". 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact All of the speakers from the "Cognitive Aging" seminar, and I, were interviewed for the Age UK radio station "The Wireless". During these interviews we talked about the event as well as research into Cognitive Aging, and findings that can impact upon the lives of older adults, identifying ways in which they might promote good cognitive health in older age.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.thewirelessradio.com
 
Description Public engagement event on "Cognitive Ageing" which involved a presentation by Age UK to 36 older adults, a "Speed Science" activity (involving researchers and older adults) and group discussions. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event consisted of three parts, 1) A presentation from the Age UK Research Team, which enabled the 36 older adults who were present at the event to learn about the research findings gathered for the evidence-based "Staying Sharp" webpages produced by Age UK. This was designed to provide people with strategies to improve their cognitive health in later life. 2) The "Speed Science" discussions also enabled the five researchers to discuss our work with the older adults and representatives from PHE, the Age UK research team, representatives from Age UK York and ESRC. The "Speed Science" discussions represented a two-way knowledge exchange, which not only improved our research impact through the dissemination of research findings, but fed-back to us ways in which our research might better address needs. 3) A group discussion session, which enabled the older adults to reflect upon the other parts of the event, and ask the researchers any outstanding questions. Written feedback from the older adults was obtained by Age UK. The positive feedback highlighted that the older adults found it useful and intended to incorporate insights from the research into their daily routines. A number of older adults also volunteered to participate in our research as a result of the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.york.ac.uk/psychology/news-and-events/news-and-events/2017/stayingsharp/
 
Description The first seminar "Cognitive Training in Children" included delegates working in education (special needs coordinators in schools etc). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Cognitive Training in Children" - MRC CBU Cambridge - hosted by Professor Susan Gathercole - 11th - 12th January 2016.

The seminar included delegates from academia and education (including special needs coordinators and representatives from schools). Following the talks, both groups contributed to the discussion, drawing upon their own experiences and areas of expertise.

http://calm.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/esrc-seminar-on-cognitive-training-in-children/

https://sites.google.com/site/idcnlab/blog/summaryofesrcseminaroncognitivetraininginchildrenmrc-cbu11-12jan2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://calm.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/esrc-seminar-on-cognitive-training-in-children/