NECC considers research a critical aspect and proving the efficacy of its programs is paramount. Independent researchers operate independently from NECC and functions to make recommendations for program improvement, to coordinate efficacy testing as a means of measuring the potential benefits of the programs to participants, and to publish the results of their findings. In that they are independent of NECC, their feedback remains objective and has proven invaluable.
Jeffrey Buchanan, Ph.D. - Independent Research Lead
My name is Dr. Jeffrey Buchanan, and I am a Professor of Psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. As an academic psychologist and specialist in
geropsychology, I am interested in understanding the impact of non-pharmacological interventions for addressing the challenges faced by persons with dementia and their caregivers. About 10 years ago, I developed an interest in cognitive training for persons experiencing cognitive decline. I discovered that the New England Cognitive Center (NECC) was doing work in this area, and I contacted them to learn more. I found the content of their programs to be very impressive because they showed a great deal of creativity and in-depth understanding of the nature of cognitive decline that occurs with dementia. I also found the programs to be unique, and that they had the potential to address a very specific and important need in the area of dementia care. Those with severe cognitive impairment are often challenging to engage in meaningful activity, and unfortunately, the result is inactivity and further decline. Professionals in the field are eager for new and innovative ways to serve these more impaired individuals, and the NECC programs fill that niche. I was also impressed with the NECC’s long-standing commitment to empirically evaluating the impact of their programs. This approach of evaluating programs before aggressively marketing and selling them distinguishes NECC from other similar organizations and products in this market and reflects a high degree of integrity.
I was fortunate to develop a relationship with the NECC in 2008, and I have had the privilege to serve as a research collaborator with them since that time. My goals have been to empirically evaluate the suite of NECC programs to determine if participants benefit in terms of cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional functioning, and we have been able to evaluate several of the NECC programs. For example, our research on a program designed for healthy older adults without cognitive impairment suggests these individuals often benefit on a wide variety of measures of cognitive functioning, report fewer depressive symptoms, and enjoy the programs. My research with cognitively impaired populations suggests that stability in cognitive functioning is the typical outcome of these programs, a finding that is quite encouraging given the progressive nature of neurocognitive disorders. More notably, we have observed improvement in some cognitive domains, as well as non-cognitive domains such as depression. Furthermore, we have found that participants like the programs, and facilitators find the programs easy to use and enjoyable to implement.
Our research, as well as the growing need and desire for NECC programs, suggests that continued program development and evaluation is justified. New programs are especially needed to serve those with severe cognitive impairment, as well as to “fill the cracks” between the existing programs. Furthermore, existing programs must be continually revised and improved, as much is being learned as more and more of the programs are delivered. This process of program development and continual evaluation and improvement is expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive, yet it is the backbone of the NECC. It is no wonder then that NECC Mind Aerobics Suite of Programs stands out as a unique evidence based cognitive rehabilitation intervention shown by independent researchers, such as myself, to provide cognitive stabilization, with some domains showing actual improvement.