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PsychNotes Index

More PsychNotes: Aging and Lifespan Issues

July 29, 2016       

Brain Training and Age-related Decline of Driving Skills
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

Speed Card game by Tesseract Mobile Full disclosure: In this PsychNote I am unabashedly promoting an android app Speed Card created by Tesseract Mobile, a company owned by Laura Ockel and my son, Josh Frank.

Many people worry about growing older and losing their independence. In much of the U.S. ability to drive is directly related to being able to function independently. However, age-related decline may interfere with driving skills. Research has shown that when older adults cease driving they engage in fewer social activities and have increased depression. Fortunately, though, there are methods that can reduce age-related decline and allow people to function independently for a longer time as they grow older (Edwards, et al., 2009).

Older adults who receive speed processing training are more likely to retain their ability to drive longer. A review of the research on speed processing training shows a variety of methods can be effective. The common feature of most of these methods is focusing attention to enhance speed and accuracy of performing an activity (O'Connor, et al., 2011).

As an example, Speed Card is an Android app that can provide speed processing training while playing a card game against a computerized opponent. Although this is a game that can be played with a real opponent, the computerized version gets faster with each level so it creates more of a challenge for the brain. It requires the ability to visually identify cards, compare them to your own cards, make a quick decision according to the rules of the game, and physically respond. So this game uses short-term memory, problem-solving skills and decision-making ability for a speedy physical reaction time.

The bottom line is you can reduce the decline of old age and maintain independence longer while having fun.

Edwards, J.D., Delahunt, P.B., Mahncke, H.W. (2009). Cognitive speed of processing training delays driving cessation. Journals of Gerontology, 64, 1262–1267. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glp131

O’Connor, M. L., Hudak, E. M., & Edwards, J. D. (2011). Cognitive Speed of Processing Training Can Promote Community Mobility among Older Adults: A Brief Review. Journal of Aging Research, 2011, 430802. DOI: 10.4061/2011/430802

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