Les mots et le cerveau : Est-ce que la réadaptation en lecture pour les personnes ayant une dégénérescence maculaire liée à l'âge peut améliorer le fonctionnement cognitif?


Walter Wittich

Université de Montréal


Domaine : vieillissement

Programme Recherches sur la dégénérescence maculaire liée à l'âge (Programme DMLA)

Concours 2018-2019

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer's disease both become more frequent as we age. Research into their mechanisms has proposed that both could be symptoms of an underlying common cause, or may be equally linked to a more complex background related to frailty and aging. Research into the prevention and treatment of dementia has provided some preliminary information that sensory decline may be linked to the progression of dementia through the concept of sensory deprivation. For example, the brain is less stimulated when older adults have less information entering their system because of vision or hearing loss, thereby accelerating the process of cognitive decline. Preliminary data in hearing loss rehabilitation support the idea that improved hearing may have a beneficial effect on the mind; however, there are so far no data available to examine whether vision rehabilitation, specifically for reading, could have an equally protective or beneficial effect.

The present proposal aims to fill this gap by following 100 AMD patients that are undergoing a reading rehabilitation intervention for a period of 1 year. The study will test their cognitive abilities and their progress in reading rehabilitation in order to answer the question whether low vision rehabilitation can be protective or restorative to cognition, as compared to a control group. Should we find that reading rehabilitation does indeed have such secondary beneficial effects on AMD patients, we will be able to make a strong case to integrate vision and dementia care and rehabilitation, and to prevent possible damage to the mind. Such protection will allow older adults with AMD to live independently for a longer period time, by keeping both the sensory and cognitive faculties in optimal shape.