Fast ForWord for Older Adults

A new study led by Professor Elzbieta Szelag in Warsaw, Poland found that elderly subjects who underwent Fast ForWord training improved not only the rate at which they processed auditory information but also in other cognitive areas.

Auditory processing speed involves temporal information processing and a decline in these functions is a factor responsible for the progressive loss of cognitive function in the elderly. Doing auditory processing exercises can, therefore, play an important role in keeping the brain functioning optimally.

Szelag confirms that the results seen in older adults are not only promising but also long-lasting. “Our study showed for the first time significant benefits of temporal training on broad aspects of cognitive function in the elderly. The results were long-lasting, with effects confirmed 18 months after the training”.

The participants were divided into 3 groups:

  1. The first group received Fast ForWord training 5 days per week, 50 minutes per day for 8 weeks.
  2. The second group participated in non-temporal targeted computer games such as Solitaire and the like.
  3. The third group underwent no training.

The participants were tested on their temporal processing ability, attention (sustained attention, divided attention, and alertness) and working memory, before and after the intervention was carried out.

The results

Before training began, no significant differences were found among scores of the three groups. Whilst the results of the participants in groups 2 and 3 remained unchanged, the group who received Fast ForWord training showed improved information processing on a tone task, as well as improvements in some aspects of attention and memory. The groups were tested again 18 months later, and it was found that the Fast ForWord group had retained the benefits of the training.

On the basis of these results, the Laboratory of Neuropsychology has recently initiated an innovative rehabilitation computer program that addresses the improvement of a broad range of cognitive functions in children and adults.