Cognitive Exercise and Its Role in Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Neuropsychiatric Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia.
Current Psychiatry Reports (Impact Factor: 3.24). 02/2010; 12(1):20-7. DOI: 10.1007/s11920-009-0085-y
Source: PubMed


Converging lines of research indicate that complex mental activity is associated with reduced dementia risk. Thus, intense interest exists in whether different forms of cognitive exercise can help protect against cognitive decline and dementia. However, there is considerable confusion in terminology that is hindering progress in the field. We therefore introduce a concrete definition of cognitive training (CT) and make this the focus of our article. Clinical research that has evaluated CT in normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia is then critically reviewed. Despite many methodological shortcomings, the overall findings indicate that multidomain CT has the potential to improve cognitive function in healthy older adults and slow decline in affected individuals. Finally, practical issues, including the strengths and weaknesses of commercial products, are explored, and recommendations for further research and clinical implementation are made.

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    • "In this connection, epidemiological studies have shown that different lifestyle factors (i.e. education, diet, social activities, physical activity and mental stimulation activities) correlate with the delayed onset of Mild Cognitive Impairment and lower incidence of AD [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]. Along these lines, some researchers have tried to test whether being reared under stimulating environments may modify/influence age-related (and, in particular, AD-related) processes in rodents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder and cause of senile dementia. It is characterized by an accelerated memory loss, and alterations of mood, reason, judgment and language. The main neuropathological hallmarks of the disorder are β-amyloid (βA) plaques and neurofibrillary Tau tangles. The triple transgenic 3xTgAD mouse model develops βA and Tau pathologies in a progressive manner which mimicks the pattern that takes place in the human brain with AD, and showing cognitive alterations characteristic of the disease. The present study intended to examine whether 3xTgAD mice of both sexes present cognitive, emotional and other behavioral alterations at the early age of 4 months, an age in which only some intraneuronal amyloid accumulation is found. Neonatal handling (H) is an early-life treatment known to produce profound and long-lasting behavioural and neurobiological effects in rodents, as well as improvements in cognitive functions. Therefore, we also aimed at evaluating the effects of H on the behavioural/cognitive profile of 4-month-old male and female 3xTgAD mice. The results indicate that, 1) 3xTgAD mice present spatial learning/memory deficits and emotional alterations already at the early age of 4 months, 2) there exists sexual dimorphism effects on several behavioral variables at this age, 3) neonatal handling exerts a preventive effect on some cognitive (spatial learning) and emotional alterations appearing in 3xTgAD mice already at early ages, and 4) H treatment appears to produce stronger positive effects in females than in males in several spatial learning measures and in the open field test. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Behavioural Brain Research 11/2014; 281. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.11.004 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    • "Multi-domain cognitive training programs have the potential to maximize the restorative/normalizing effects of training that is the ideal goal of training. Gates et al. reviewed the behavioral effects of cognitive training on normal aging, MCI and dementia and suggested that multi-domain cognitive training has the potential to improve cognitive functions in healthy older adults and slow the cognitive decline in MCI population (Gates and Valenzuela, 2010). Compared with single-domain training, multi-domain cognitive training is more advantageous in terms of training-effect maintenance in non-demented older adults (Cheng et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive training is an emergent approach that has begun to receive increased attention in recent years as a non-pharmacological, cost-effective intervention for Alzheimer's disease (AD). There has been increasing behavioral evidence regarding training-related improvement in cognitive performance in early stages of AD. Although these studies provide important insight about the efficacy of cognitive training, neuroimaging studies are crucial to pinpoint changes in brain structure and function associated with training and to examine their overlap with pathology in AD. In this study, we reviewed the existing neuroimaging studies on cognitive training in persons at risk of developing AD to provide an overview of the overlap between neural networks rehabilitated by the current training methods and those affected in AD. The data suggest a consistent training-related increase in brain activity in medial temporal, prefrontal, and posterior default mode networks, as well as increase in gray matter structure in frontoparietal and entorhinal regions. This pattern differs from the observed pattern in healthy older adults that shows a combination of increased and decreased activity in response to training. Detailed investigation of the data suggests that training in persons at risk of developing AD mainly improves compensatory mechanisms and partly restores the affected functions. While current neuroimaging studies are quite helpful in identifying the mechanisms underlying cognitive training, the data calls for future multi-modal neuroimaging studies with focus on multi-domain cognitive training, network level connectivity, and individual differences in response to training.
    Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 08/2014; 6(231). DOI:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00231 · 4.00 Impact Factor
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    • "Likewise, the comparison between visual WM and verbal WM tasks will be necessary to improve WM method development. We believe that the plasticity of the brain enables it to become more effective in memory, attention, processing information, thinking innovation, and solving problems [47] [48] through effective novel brain training simulations [49]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent evidence demonstrates that with training, one can enhance visual working memory (VWM) capacity and attention over time in the near transfer tasks. Not only do these studies reveal the characteristics of VWM load and the influences of training, they may also provide insights into developing effective rehabilitation for patients with VWM deficiencies. Howev-er, few studies have investigated VWM over extended periods of time and evaluated transfer benefits on non-trained tasks. Here, we combined behavioral and electroencephalographical approaches to investigate VWM load, training gains, and transfer benefits. Our results reveal that VWM capacity is directly correlated to the difference of event-related potential wave-forms. In particular, the "magic number 4" can be observed through the contralateral delay amplitude and the average capacity is 3.25-item over 15 participants. Furthermore, our findings indicate that VWM capacity can be improved through training; and after training exercises, participants from the training group are able to dramatically improve their per-formance. Likewise, the training effects on non-trained tasks can also be observed at the 12th week after training. Therefore, we conclude that participants can benefit from training gains, and augmented VWM capacity sustained over long periods of time on specific variety of tasks.
    Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science 05/2014; 4(5):234-246. DOI:10.4236/jbbs.2014.45025
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