Program for African American Cognition and Exercise (PAACE)
Co-Principal InvestigatorsOwen Carmichael, PhD Pennington Biomedical Research Center
This study will determine if we can get elderly African American adults to exercise more. If we do, we believe that we can improve their cognition (ie, thinking) and hopefully prevent cognition loss as they get older. Many elderly people have problems in their thinking, also known as dementia, and we hope to reduce people’s risk of developing dementia.
This project was designed by Dr. Robert Newton and Dr. Owen Carmichael. The goal of our project is to increase our knowledge on the effects of a physical activity program on dementia prevention in African American adults. In order to achieve this goal, we need to develop a physical activity program that African American adults will participate in. There have been several physical activity interventions that have been specifically developed for African American adults, but they were not specific to older African Americans. Our first aim is to gather information directly from older African Americans about the kinds of activities they want to engage in and use this information to develop the physical activity program. Our next aim is to determine if this intervention will increase physical activity levels in a group of older African Americans. Each participant will wear a physical activity monitoring device over the course of the study. We need to determine if the intervention increases physical activity in order to achieve our final aim. Our final aim is to determine if the intervention has an effect on brain functioning. Brain functioning will be measured using psychological testing and imaging techniques. Our intervention is unique from other studies in two major ways. First, no study to date has specifically developed a physical activity intervention for older African Americans. Second, no study has measured brain functioning utilizing imaging techniques. Therefore, our project will make several important contributions to the dementia field.
As a first step in determining the effects of physical activity on brain functioning in older African American adults, this study will lead the way to other studies assessing different types of physical activity interventions, as well as different types of imaging techniques in this population.While there is an association between physical activity and risk for dementia, these studies have not included large samples of African Americans and there is data indicating that the risk for dementia is greater in African Americans. However, there is very little known about effective interventions to prevent dementia and cognitive decline in African Americans and our study will make a significant contribution to the field.