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: 3.05). 02/2010; 12(1):20-7. DOI: 10.1007/s11920-009-0085-y
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    ABSTRACT: Computerized cognitive training (CCT) is a safe and inexpensive intervention to enhance cognitive performance in the elderly. However, the neural underpinning of CCT-induced effects and the timecourse by which such neural changes occur are unknown. Here, we report on results from a pilot study of healthy older adults who underwent three 1-h weekly sessions of either multidomain CCT program (n = 7) or an active control intervention (n = 5) over 12 weeks. Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive assessments were performed at baseline and after 9 and 36 h of training. Voxel-based structural analysis revealed a significant Group × Time interaction in the right post-central gyrus indicating increased gray matter density in the CCT group compared to active control at both follow-ups. Across the entire sample, there were significant positive correlations between changes in the post-central gyrus and change in global cognition after 36 h of training. A post-hoc vertex-based analysis found a significant between-group difference in rate of thickness change between baseline and post-training in the left fusiform gyrus, as well as a large cluster in the right parietal lobe covering the supramarginal and post-central gyri. Resting-state functional connectivity between the posterior cingulate and the superior frontal gyrus, and between the right hippocampus and the superior temporal gyrus significantly differed between the two groups after 9 h of training and correlated with cognitive change post-training. No significant interactions were found for any of the spectroscopy and diffusion tensor imaging data. Though preliminary, our results suggest that functional change may precede structural and cognitive change, and that about one-half of the structural change occurs within the first 9 h of training. Future studies are required to determine the role of these brain changes in the mechanisms underlying CCT-induced cognitive effects.
    Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 03/2015; 7(14). DOI:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00014 · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive training has recently become a primary topic of interest in cognitive psychology. The discovery of a strong relationship between WM and Gf gave rise to new cognitive training methods (like dual n-back task), which challenged traditional views of intelligence as a fixed trait in healthy adults. Previous research has shown mixed results in the ability of cognitive training to improve fluid intelligence. Presented dissertation aims to first replicate such effects in a study with (N=142) participants, and then to explore the mediating role of personality systems interaction (PSI) personality factors. In addition, univariate and bivariate analyses of two n-back related, self-report questionnaires (N=258 and N=97) are presented. Experimental results showed improvements in one out of two IQ test scores, which reflects the ambivalent nature of previous research in this field. After examining the results in context of PSI theory, it was found that different training methods yielded different IQ gains in participants, depending on their personality styles. In addition, these correlations suggested a meaningful pattern, indicating that PSI theory may be able to account for the different outcomes of cognitive training studies. Analysis of self-report questionnaires suggests, among other things, that the use of mental strategies during n-back training does not influence prospective IQ gains, and neither does the motivation to participate in n-back study. Qualitative reports complement these findings by offering unique insights into the subjective experiences of people who trained n-back. The presented findings may facilitate tailor-made cognitive training interventions in the future, and can contribute to explaining the mechanisms underlying the far-transfer of working memory training to fluid intelligence.
    01/2015, Degree: Ph.D., Supervisor: prof. PhDr. Tomáš Urbánek, Ph.D.
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive training (CT) has been reported to improve cognition in older adults. Its combination with protective factors such as physical activity (CPT) has rarely been studied, but it has been suggested that CPT might show stronger effects than pure CT. Healthy older adults (aged 50-85 years) were trained with CPT (n=15) or CT (n=15). Interventions were conducted in 90-minute sessions twice weekly for 6.5 weeks. Cognitive functions were assessed before and immediately after the interventions, and at 1-year follow-up. The main finding was an interaction effect on attention, with comparable gains from CPT and CT from pre- to post-test, but stronger effects of CPT to follow-up (P=0.02). Significant effects were found in subjects in terms of cognitive state (P=0.02), letter verbal fluency (P=0.00), and immediate (P=0.00) and delayed (P=0.01) verbal memory. Post hoc analyses indicated that these latter domains were affected differentially by CPT and CT. No significant between-subject effects were found. Our results suggest that CPT might lead to stronger long-term effects on attention. However, as the difference between CT and CPT was only evident at follow-up, these effects cannot be interpreted as a direct consequence of CPT; they may have been related to sustained physical activity after the training. Other domains were improved by both interventions, but no typical pattern could be identified. Possible underlying mechanisms are discussed, and directions for future research are suggested.
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