Skip to content Skip to navigation

OPTIMA Award: How SAIDO Learning works

September 16, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
| Reprints
Click to View the Image Gallery

Many medical conditions can cause dementia symptoms, especially in older people. Virtually all dementias, however (except alcohol-induced dementia), reflect dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex (referred to as PFC in the accompanying graphic). The SAIDO Learning program is designed to stimulate the prefrontal cortex, resulting in activity that can be measured by two standard cognitive tests, the Mini-Mental State Examination, or MMSE, and the Frontal Assessment Battery at Bedside, or FAB. The reading, writing and arithmetic exercises used in the program are not “tests.” Their goal is simply to stimulate the prefrontal cortex.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates that certain areas of the brain are activated with greater blood flow during specific activities. For instance, the prefrontal cortex is activated when solving simple math problems, reading aloud or counting numbers and writing letters of the alphabet, but it's not activated as much when solving complex math problems or when reading silently. During SAIDO learning sessions, residents with dementia (called learners) read aloud, write and perform simple math calculations as quickly as they can.

The SAIDO Learning program has 18 levels and uses regular assessments to determine at which level any particular learner is functioning; each resident’s exercises are then tailored to that level. Each session lasts 30 minutes, and sessions are held five days a week. Sessions must be ongoing for the effects to be maintained, programmers say.

Click the OPTIMA Award seal (upper left) to see an image gallery.

Read more about SAIDO and the 2013 OPTIMA Award winner:
The gift of the present

One-on-one with...Chelley Antonczak
SAIDO Learning in action: A typical session [VIDEO]
The SAIDO clinical trial
SAIDO Learning: A timeline
Blog: The elusive high five
SAIDO Learning: Seeing is believing [PODCAST]
SAIDO Learning: 'It's remarkable' [PODCAST]