Healthy cognitive aging and dementia prevention

Glenn E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Behavioral prevention strategies can help maintain high levels of cognition and functional integrity, and can reduce the social, medical, and economic burden associated with cognitive aging and age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Interventions involving physical exercise and cognitive training have consistently shown positive effects on cognition in older adults. "Brain fitness" interventions have now been shown to have sustained effects lasting years or more. A meta-analysis suggests these physical exercise and brain fitness exercises produce nearly identical impact on formal measures of cognitive function. Behavioral interventions developed and deployed by psychologists are key in supporting healthy cognitive aging. The National Institutes of Health should expand research on cognitive health and behavioral and social science to promote healthy aging and to develop and refine ways to prevent and treat dementia. Funding for adequately powered, large-scale trials is needed. Congress must maintain support for crucial dementia-related initiatives like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Brain Initiative and fund training programs to insure there is a work force with skills to provide high quality care for older adults. Insurers must provide better coverage for behavioral interventions. Better coverage is needed so there can be increased access to evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion services with the potential for reducing dementia risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-275
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cognitive aging
  • Dementia
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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