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The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project (THBP): a prospective longitudinal examination of the effect of university-level education in older adults in preventing age-related cognitive decline and reducing the risk of dementia

Citation

Summers, MJ and Saunders, NLJ and Valenzuela, MJ and Summers, JJ and Ritchie, K and Robinson, A and Vickers, JC, The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project (THBP): a prospective longitudinal examination of the effect of university-level education in older adults in preventing age-related cognitive decline and reducing the risk of dementia, International Psychogeriatric, 25, (7) pp. 1145-1155. ISSN 1041-6102 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 International Psychogeriatric Association

DOI: doi:10.1017/S1041610213000380

Abstract

Background: Differences in the level of cognitive compromise between individuals following brain injury are thought to arise from underlying differences in cognitive reserve. The level of cognitive reserve attained by an individual is influenced by both genetic and life experience factors such as educational attainment and occupational history. The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project (THBP) is a world-first prospective study examining the capacity of university-level education to enhance cognitive reserve in older adults and subsequently reduce age-related cognitive decline and risk for neurodegenerative disease.

Methods: Up to 1,000 adults aged 50–79 years at the time of entry into the study will be recruited to participate in the THBP. All participants will be healthy and free of significant medical, psychological, or psychiatric illness. Of the participant sample, 90% will undertake a minimum of 12 months part-time university-level study as an intervention. The remaining 10% will act as a control reference group. Participants will complete an annual comprehensive assessment of neuropsychological function, medical health, socialization, and personal well-being. Premorbid estimates of past cognitive, education, occupational, and physical function will be used to account for the mediating influence of prior life experience on outcomes. Potential contributing genetic factors will also be explored.

Results: Participant results will be assessed annually. Participants displaying evidence of dementia on the comprehensive neuropsychological assessment will be referred to an independent psycho-geriatrician for screening and diagnosis.

Conclusions: The THBP commenced in 2011 and is expected to run for 10–20 years duration. To date, a total of 383 participants have been recruited into the THBP.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:health, brain, study
Research Division:Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Research Group:Psychology
Research Field:Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health)
Objective Field:Health Related to Ageing
Author:Summers, MJ (Dr Mathew Summers)
Author:Saunders, NLJ (Dr Nichole Saunders)
Author:Summers, JJ (Professor Jeffery Summers)
Author:Robinson, A (Professor Andrew Robinson)
Author:Vickers, JC (Professor James Vickers)
ID Code:84560
Year Published:2013
Funding Support:National Health and Medical Research Council (1003645)
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2013-05-20
Last Modified:2015-07-31
Downloads:0

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