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: 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: There is much interest in early intervention for the prevention or postponement of dementia in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The results of drugs trials in this regard have thus far been disappointing, and non-pharmacological interventions are receiving increased attention. One such intervention is complex cognitive activity. Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that participation in stimulating mental activities is associated with lowered dementia risk. The introduction of novel and complex cognitive interventions to healthy adults and those with cognitive impairment may represent an efficacious treatment option to improve cognition, lower dementia incidence, and slow rate of decline. This review examines the evidence for restorative cognitive training (CT) and addresses a number of clinically relevant issues regarding cognitive benefit and its transfer and persistence. Although the number of randomized controlled trials is limited, preliminary evidence suggests that CT may provide immediate and longer term cognitive benefits which generalize to non-trained domains and non-cognitive functions, with supervised small group multi-domain training providing greatest benefits. Possible neuroplastic mechanisms are discussed, and recommendations for further research and clinical implementation provided.
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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). · 2.84 Impact Factor


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Jun 10, 2014