Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Cognitive Reserve

  • Jesse ChasmanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1114


Brain reserve; Neural compensation; Neural reserve


Cognitive reserve is a concept often used to describe how individual differences mediate the clinical expression of brain damage. In this context, some individuals may cope better than others and function within relatively normal limits, despite the presence of neuropathology.

Historical Background

Historically, one of the earliest observations of cognitive reserve was described in a study that found characteristic senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles commonly associated with Alzheimer’s pathology present in healthy, cognitively unimpaired elderly (Blessed et al. 1968). Similar observations between brain pathology and performance variability frequently have been described in the extant literature.

Current Knowledge

While the underlying mechanisms that support cognitive reserve remain unclear, current theories focus on how the brain may develop alternative or more efficient networks to compensate for pathology....

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References and Readings

  1. Blessed, G., Tomlinson, B. E., & Roth, M. (1968). The association between quantitative measures of dementia and of senile change in the cerebral grey matter of elderly subjects. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 114(512), 797–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blumen, H., Gopher, D., Steinerman, J., & Stern, Y. (2010). Training cognitive control in older adults with the space fortress game: The role of training instructions and basic motor ability. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2, 145.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  4. Satz, P. (1993). Brain reserve capacity on symptom onset after brain injury: A formulation and review of evidence for threshold theory. Neuropsychology, 7(3), 273–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Stern, Y. (2003). The concept of cognitive reserve: A catalyst for research. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 25(5), 589–593.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Stern, Y. (2006). Cognitive reserve: Theory and application (studies on neuropsychology, neurology, and cognition). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  7. Stern, Y. (2012). Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurology, 11, 1006–1012.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA