Dementia prevention is one of the major challenges humankind is facing. Dr. Amit Lampit, an LBS graduate who is currently doing post-doctoral research at the University of Sydney, Australia, is at the forefront of developing interventions for preventing dementia and aging-related cognitive decline.
Amit’s profound interest in cognitive training dates back to his business studies at LBS. As part of his master thesis, he conducted a study on the impact of a computerized cognitive training program on performance of bookkeeping tasks. His outstanding work has recently been published in Frontiers in Psychology, an international peer-reviewed journal (co-authored with his master thesis supervisor Prof. Claus Ebster as well as PhD supervisor Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela of the University of Sydney).
Subsequently, Amit devoted himself to neuroscience and successfully completed his PhD at the Regenerative Neuroscience Group, University of Sydney. Dr. Lampit’s clinical research is extremely relevant for business and the economy, too. “Cognitive inactivity is a key dementia risk factor. There are clear links between retirement age and cognitive decline”, he recounts during a recent visit at the LBS campus. Keeping elderly people physically active and intellectually engaged is thus a promising pathway to the delay of Alzheimer and related incurable diseases. Integrated solutions where younger and older generations meaningfully live and work together will keep at-risk people healthy for many more years. Phasing out models, voluntary commitment, and conditionality on pensions are among the proposed measures for 60 plus employment. Particularly in less developed countries, the isolation of elderly people constitutes a massive public health problem.
Dr. Lampit’s research often takes him to the gym or, to be precise, to the mental gym. This is where his interdisciplinary team of researchers administer cognitive training exercises to aged Sydney-siders in order to measure the effects of mental activity on cognitive performance. The team’s work has already been resulted in several major advancements for the field, including charting the dose-response functions of cognitive training and their neural underpinnings, among other findings. In a high-impact 2014 meta-analysis, Dr. Lampit and his colleagues analyzed results from more than 50 studies encompassing nearly 5,000 elderly participants, and reported that cognitive training is indeed effective, but only when administered in a group settings and not more than three times per week. This work received extensive media coverage with an estimated audience of 2.5 million people worldwide.
The core challenges for Amit and his collaborators are developing valid tests and measuring function, e.g. as to how early-stage Alzheimer patients gradually lose functional skills at home. According to Amit Lampit this has direct bearings on micro-economic decisions of households. “Research has shown that old-aged people pay higher interest and fees. They evaluate the value of their properties less accurately and are thus prone to get worse deals from their bank.”
Amit’s career track impressively demonstrates how closely business, economics, medicine and neuroscience are intertwined. Early interventions into the cognitive development of its citizens increase the mental wealth of a nation. Lauder Business School is extremely proud that one of its graduates pioneers cutting-edge research in an area which is utterly significant to economic and social prosperity.