Early results from a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study appear to affirm cognitive benefits as attention training allowed older adults to block out distractions and improve concentration.
Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D., lead scientist on this study, said that as people age, they experience changes in how they perceive the information that their eyes and ears gather from the environment. … Specifically, older adults combine information from the different senses more readily than do younger adults. This tendency, known as sensory integration, can lead to difficulties in blocking out distracting sights and sounds while still maintaining focus on important information.
Follow-up fMRIs showed that in the group receiving the one-on-one training, activity related to sight was increased, while activity related to sound was decreased. In addition, performance on the task was improved.
“Behavioral and imaging data support our hypothesis that attention training can reduce multi-sensory integration,” said Mozolic. “This suggests that attention training is a potential way to improve sensory processing by reducing older adults’ susceptibility to distracting stimuli.”