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Enhancing Innovation and Underlying Neural Mechanisms Via Cognitive Training in Healthy Older Adults

An older man is smiling into the camera.

Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Sandra B. Chapman, Jeffrey S. Spence, Sina Aslan and Molly W. Keebler

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The randomized study compares the effect of cognitive reasoning training on innovative thinking in healthy older adults, as measured by Multiple Interpretations Measure (MIM).Participants ranged from 56-75 years old and were tested on ability to practice innovative thought after completing a course in Strategic Memory and Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART™). This training employed three broad areas of higher-order thinking, strategic attention, integrated reasoning and innovation, to focus on filtering and synthesizing information, as well as fluid thinking. Data was collected using a multiple interpretations measure (MIM), and brain blood flow changes were recorded with MRI-based measurements. Results from the study reveal three main findings: 1) significant gains in innovation performance over time, 2) increased brain blood flow, and 3) significant associations between improvements in innovation scores and connectivity between two major neural networks (central executive network and default mode network). These findings support the potential to harness brain plasticity and enhance innovative thinking in cognitively normal older adults.

Participants receiving the cognitive training produced the greatest number of high-quality innovations compared to the controls ad the physical training groups.

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Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD

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

Jeffrey S. Spence, PhD

Director of Biostatistics

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