Memory training interventions for older adults: A meta-analysis

Alden L. Gross, Jeanine M. Parisi, Adam P. Spira, Alexandra M. Kueider, Jean Y. Ko, Jane S. Saczynski, Quincy M. Samus, George W. Rebok

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


A systematic review and meta-analysis of memory training research was conducted to characterize the effect of memory strategies on memory performance among cognitively intact, community-dwelling older adults, and to identify characteristics of individuals and of programs associated with improved memory. The review identified 402 publications, of which 35 studies met criteria for inclusion. The overall effect size estimate, representing the mean standardized difference in pre-post change between memory-trained and control groups, was 0.31 standard deviations (SD; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.22, 0.39). The pre-post training effect for memory-trained interventions was 0.43 SD (95% CI: 0.29, 0.57) and the practice effect for control groups was 0.06 SD (95% CI: -0.05, 0.16). Among 10 distinct memory strategies identified in studies, meta-analytic methods revealed that training multiple strategies was associated with larger training gains (p=0.04), although this association did not reach statistical significance after adjusting for multiple comparisons. Treatment gains among memory-trained individuals were not better after training in any particular strategy, or by the average age of participants, session length, or type of control condition. These findings can inform the design of future memory training programs for older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-734
Number of pages13
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Memory
  • Memory training
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mnemonics
  • Strategy use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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