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Distinct Brain and Behavioral Benefits from Cognitive vs. Physical Training: A Randomized Trial in Aging Adults

A happy senior couple with elastic bands indoors at home, doing exercise on the floor. IStock#: 1173306369

Sandra B. Chapman, Sina Aslan, Jeffrey S. Spence, Molly W. Keebler, Laura F. DeFina, Nyaz Didehbani, Alison M. Perez, Hanzhang Lu and Mark D'Esposito

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Overview

This randomized trial compared the results of two training protocols: cognitive training (CT) and physical training (PT) to examine their effects on cognition and brain function for adults aged 56-75 years. Participants were randomly assigned to either the PT or CT, and both training regiments were conducted 3 hours per week over the span of 12 weeks. Data was gathered before, during (halfway), and after training; cognitive performance was measured by a range of standardized intelligence tests, and brain changes were measured through fMRI. Evidence indicated that both training methods improved brain function and cognition for participants, but in distinct ways. The cognitive training seemed to improve participants' executive functioning (reasoning, decision making, etc.), and the physical activity enhanced memory.

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
Sandi Chapman with blue jacket and green/blue lights, horizontal. Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth, Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor

Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD

Chief Director Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project

Jeffrey Spence portrait, white background, vertical. Director of Biostatistics at the Center for BrainHealth.

Jeffrey S. Spence, PhD

Director of Biostatistics