Each year in Quebec, nearly 6000 people undergo coronary bypass surgery. Recovery is long and quality of life is greatly affected, in particular because most patients experience cognitive deficits that affect attention and memory for weeks or even months after the surgery. However, cognitive training helps to significantly reduce these postoperative complications according to a study that will be presented by Dr. Louis Bherer, PhD (Psychology), a laboratory director and researcher at the Institut universitaire de g-riatrie de Montr-al (IUGM), an institution affiliated with Universit- de Montr-al at the Soci-t- Fran-aise de M-decine Physique et de R-adaptation symposium in Toulouse, on October 20. He is also the Canada Research Chair in Aging and the Prevention of Cognitive Decline and a professor at Universit- du Qu-bec - Montr-al. The study was carried out with his student -milie de Tournay-Jett- and codirected by Dr. Gilles Dupuis from Universit- du Qu-bec - Montr-al (UQAM).
Speeding up recovery and improving quality of life
This study demonstrated that patients suffering from cognitive deficits after coronary bypass surgery could greatly benefit from cognitive training that targets both attention and memory-the cognitive functions most affected after this type of operation. "It is clear that seniors' brains have a certain degree of plasticity," Dr. Louis Bherer commented, "as we observed improvement in memory and attention even in subjects who did not undergo this training. In my opinion, this is a very useful discovery, as it suggests that patients should receive cognitive training in addition to the usual medical follow-up." What's more, benefits from the training are maintained over time.
Dr. Bherer wanted to know whether these subjects' brains maintained plasticity despite the patients' advanced age, in other words, whether training aimed at a specific function would lead to benefits for other non-targeted functions. Through regular follow-up over six months, the researchers measured progress in 44 patients over the age of 65 who were chosen based on whether they were in good physical and mental health before the surgery.