Jurong Ageing Study

AWE - The Research JAS Timeline for Active Ageing

Drawing from experiences at the National University Hospital (NUH) Memory Clinic, researchers at the Mind Science Centre recognised that the quality of life and life expectancy of people with early dementia could improve through lifestyle changes and the stabilisation of chronic illnesses. Combined with the lack of success in pharmacological interventions, there is a need to assess an alternative method to prevent and slow the progression of dementia.

With support from our donors, we rented a space at Jurong Point Mall, aptly named the Training and Research Academy (TaRA) to be our research base. The proximity and accessibility of a shopping mall eased the recruitment and data collection process which officially started in 2011.

Diet and Healthy Ageing (DaHA) Study

The DaHA study aims to identify dietary factors that are associated with healthy and functional ageing, as well as reduced risk of age-related diseases. It also aims to investigate the underlying biological mechanisms and examine the diet-gene and nutrient-gene interactions.

Our research found that long-term tea consumption was significantly associated with a reduced odds of having depressive and anxiety symptoms. In addition, compared with participants who consumed mushrooms less than once per week, participants who consumed mushrooms >2 portions per week had reduced odds of having MCI.

Find out more in our publications here.

JAS Tea Drinking

Open Label Pilot Study

JAS Help

JAS first started with a naturalistic study of 101 seniors with mild depressive and anxiety symptoms. Participants joined a Health Education Programme (HEP) for 20 minutes, before being split into groups to join one of the four interventions below:

  • Tai Chi Exercise
  • Mindful Awareness Practice
  • Music Reminiscence Therapy
  • Art Therapy

After one month, participants in the music reminiscence therapy group showed significant improvements in depression and anxiety scores. By the third month, significant improvements were found in all groups.

After a year, improvements in cognition (memory, concentration, and orientation) were found in 22% of participants. Additionally, cognition scores were maintained in 24% of participants, as published here.

Mindful Awareness Practice (MAP) Study

Following promising results from the pilot study, the team further expanded this research with randomised controlled trials (RCT).

We had carried out a 9-month randomized control trial to examine the bio-psychological effect of mindfulness intervention in older adults with MCI. Those in the intervention arm participated in instructor-led Mindful Awareness Practice (MAP) sessions weekly for the first 12 weeks, followed by monthly sessions for another 6 months. Those in the control group joined a Health Education Programme (HEP) following the same schedule.

Our studies found improvements in temporal global efficiency, verbal recognition memory, and working memory span. In addition, we also found increased telomere lengths and improvements in gut microbiome.

Read more in our publications here.

MAP – How To Prevent Dementia

Art Therapy & Music Reminiscence Study

Art therapy (AT) is a widely accepted psychosocial intervention known to engage attention and enhance cognition, and improve mood for persons with dementia. However, research assessing the benefits of AT in the MCI population is limited.

This study used a structured AT that was introduced as a 9-month randomized control trial of older adults with MCI. The trial involved three arms: (1) art therapy (AT), (2) music reminiscence activity and (3) a control group (no intervention).

The primary outcome, cognitive performance on neuropsychological tests, showed significant improvement in memory domains which were sustained at 9 months with art therapy. Additional improvements were also noted in visuospatial abilities, attention, working memory, and executive function.

Find our publications here.

Horticulture Therapy Study

Therapeutic horticulture refers to the process of enhancing participants’ well-being through plant-related activities. Previous research have shown evidence that garden settings prevent cognitive decline, depression and stress, and also improve social engagement in the elderly.

Mind Science Centre’s randomized control trial (RCT) aims to investigate the efficacy of horticultural therapy to improve the physical and mental well-being of seniors. The programme consists of planting, maintaining, and harvesting vegetables and herbs, creating nature-based artworks, and mindful walking at the Singapore Botanical Gardens, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Gardens by the Bay.

Our research found improved memory and immune response, as well as social connectedness and life satisfaction, all of which are important factors in building social resilience.

Find out more in our publications here.


Choral Singing Study

how to prevent dementia singapore choir singing

People engaging in lifelong music-making have been found to have better cognitive outcomes later in life. Mind Science Centre conducted a single-site, parallel-group, randomised active-controlled trial to assess the efficacy and mechanisms of Choral Singing Intervention (CSI) in delaying cognitive decline. For 2 years, participants attended weekly sessions of either CSI or Health Education Programme (HEP).

From the study, choral singing is found to be a safe and enjoyable activity to promote cognitive health and is likely to be embraced by the community. Above psychological benefits, the study also found improved social connectedness among the participants in the intervention arm.

Read the published articles here.

A 5-year community program in Singapore to prevent cognitive decline

There is a scarcity of naturalistic follow-up studies on cognitive stimulating activities (CSAs), particularly in a real-world setting and over long-term. We thus investigated a pooled novel CSA intervention to prevent cognitive decline amongst community-dwelling older adults without dementia.

This study is a 5-year follow-up of the RCTs on mindfulness, horticulture, art therapy, and choral singing mentioned above. We examined if involvements in those CSAs improved cognition as compared to controls. The primary outcomes were changes in global cognition and specific cognitive domain scores measured by the mini-mental state examination (MMSE). Exploratory subgroup analyses stratified by baseline cognitive status and the number of CSAs were also conducted.

Results from our study showed that CSA intervention improved cognition. Additionally, it was found that the effect is more significant in those with MCI and those involved in two CSAs. These sustained improvements in cognitive functions could have a significant impact on delaying or preventing dementia. Read our publication here.

Chinese Ink Painting Study

Principal Investigator (PI): Dr Chee Tji Tjian

Growing evidence suggests that cognitive leisure activities can improve cognitive functioning in older persons with mild cognitive impairment. As a complex cognitive, social, and cultural activity, Chinese ink painting may benefit the ageing brain in multiple ways, such as greater cognitive stimulation, relaxation, and mindfulness. Through randomised controlled trial methodology, this study hopes to demonstrate the value of Chinese ink painting in the prevention of dementia.

Recruitment is currently ongoing for this study. The team is looking for participants:

  • Age > 60 years old
  • Suspected or diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)


For more information, contact pcmyjf@nus.edu.sg or 92453907.