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Martens, Kris; Takano, Keisuke; Barry, Tom J.; Goedleven, Jolien; Van den Meutter, Louise and Raes, Filip (2019): Remediating Reduced Autobiographical Memory in Healthy Older Adults With Computerized Memory Specificity Training (c-MeST): An Observational Before-After Study. In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 21, No. 5, e13333

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Background: The ability to retrieve specific autobiographical memories decreases with cognitive aging. This decline is clinically relevant due to its association with impairments in problem solving, daily functioning, and depression. A therapist-delivered group training protocol, Memory Specificity Training (MeST), has been shown to enhance the retrieval of specific memories while ameliorating the impairments and negative outcomes associated with reduced specificity. The therapist-delivered nature of this intervention means it is relatively expensive to deliver and difficult for people with mobility impairments, such as older people, to receive. Objective: The objective of this study was to test if a novel, Web-based computerized version of a group training protocol called Memory Specificity Training, has the potential to increase autobiographical memory specificity and impact associated secondary psychological processes. Methods: A total of 21 participants (13 female;mean age 67.05, SD 6.55) who experienced a deficit in retrieving specific autobiographical memory were trained with c-MeST. We assessed memory specificity at preintervention and postintervention, as well as secondary processes such as depressive symptoms, rumination, and problem-solving skills. Results: Memory specificity increased significantly after participants completed c-MeST (r=.57). Session-to-session scores indicated that autobiographical memory specificity improved most from the online baseline assessment to the first Web-based session. Symptoms or secondary processes such as problem-solving skills did not change significantly. Conclusions: A Web-based automated individual version of MeST is a feasible, low-cost intervention for reduced memory specificity in healthy older adults. Future studies should clarify the preventive impact of c-MeST in other at-risk sample populations with longer follow-up times.

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