Aging, Training, and the Brain: A Review and Future Directions

Abstract

As the population ages, the need for effective methods to maintain or even improve older adults’ cognitive performance becomes increasingly pressing. Here we provide a brief review of the major intervention approaches that have been the focus of past research with healthy older adults (strategy training, multi-modal interventions, cardiovascular exercise, and process-based training), and new approaches that incorporate neuroimaging. As outcome measures, neuroimaging data on intervention-related changes in volume, structural integrity; and functional activation can provide important insights into the nature and duration of an intervention’s effects. Perhaps even more intriguingly, several recent studies have used neuroimaging data as a guide to identify core cognitive processes that can be trained in one task with effective transfer to other tasks that share the same underlying processes. Although many open questions remain, this research has greatly increased our understanding of how to promote successful aging of cognition and the brain.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Naftali Raz for organizing this issue, Caitlin Mallory for assistance with references, and Rena Wexelberg-Clouser and Alyse Stegman for assistance with Table 1. Cindy Lustig was supported by NIA AG029329, Rachael Seidler and Patricia Reuter-Lorenz by NIH AG024106.

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Lustig, C., Shah, P., Seidler, R. et al. Aging, Training, and the Brain: A Review and Future Directions. Neuropsychol Rev 19, 504–522 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11065-009-9119-9

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Keywords

  • Training
  • fmri
  • Healthy aging
  • Brain
  • Neuroimaging
  • Cardiovascular
  • Cognitive intervention