Higher-Order Cognitive Training Effects on Processing Speed-Related Neural Activity: A Randomized Trial



Higher-order cognitive training has shown to enhance performance in older adults, but the neural mechanisms underlying performance enhancement have yet to be fully disambiguated. This randomized trial examined changes in processing speed and processing speed-related neural activity in older participants (57-71years of age) who underwent cognitive training (CT, N= 12) compared with wait-listed (WLC, N= 15) or exercise-training active (AC, N= 14) controls. The cognitive training taught cognitive control functions of strategic attention, integrative reasoning, and innovation over 12weeks. All 3 groups worked through a functional magnetic resonance imaging processing speed task during 3 sessions (baseline, mid-training, and post-training). Although all groups showed faster reaction times (RTs) across sessions, the CT group showed a significant increase, and the WLC and AC groups showed significant decreases across sessions in the association between RT and BOLD signal change within the left prefrontal cortex (PFC). Thus, cognitive training led to a change in processing speed-related neural activity where faster processing speed was associated with reduced PFC activation, fitting previously identified neural efficiency profiles.



Aging, Cognitive therapy, Exercise, Neuroplasticity, Cognition--Data processing, Reasoning, Magnetic resonance imaging


"This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (RC1-AG035954, 2009; R01-NS067015, 2010; R01- AG033106; 2009)"


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