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Trials. 2012 Apr 6;13:32. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-13-32.

Beneficial effects of reading aloud and solving simple arithmetic calculations (learning therapy) on a wide range of cognitive functions in the healthy elderly: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Smart Ageing International Research Centre, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan. rnouchi@idac.tohoku.ac.jp



Almost all cognitive functions decline with age. Results of previous studies have shown that cognitive training related to everyday life (reading aloud and solving simple arithmetic calculations), namely learning therapy, can improve two cognitive function (executive functions and processing speed) in elderly people. However, it remains unclear whether learning therapy engenders improvement of various cognitive functions or not. We investigate the impact of learning therapy on various cognitive functions (executive functions, episodic memory, short-term memory, working memory, attention, reading ability, and processing speed) in healthy older adults.


We use a single-blinded intervention with two parallel groups (a learning therapy group and a waiting list control group). Testers are blind to the study hypothesis and the group membership of participants. Through an advertisement in local newspaper, 64 healthy older adults are recruited. They will be assigned randomly to a learning therapy group or a waiting list control group. In the learning therapy group, participants are required to perform two cognitive tasks for 6 months: reading Japanese aloud and solving simple calculations. The waiting list group does not participate in the intervention. The primary outcome measure is the Stroop test score: a measure of executive function. Secondary outcome measures are assessments including the following: verbal fluency task, logical memory, first and second names, digit span forward, digit span backward, Japanese reading test, digit cancellation task, digit symbol coding, and symbol search. We assess these outcome measures before and after the intervention.


This report is the first study which investigates the beneficial effects of learning therapy on a wide range of cognitive functions of elderly people. Our study provides sufficient evidence of learning therapy effectiveness. Most cognitive functions, which are correlated strongly with daily life activities, decrease with age. These study results can elucidate effects of cognitive training on elderly people.


This trial was registered in The University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry (No. UMIN000006998).

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