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Neural Mechanisms of Brain Plasticity With Complex Cognitive Training in Healthy Seniors

Elderly couple smiling, outdoors on a beautiful day.

Cerebral Cortex

Sandra B. Chapman, Sina Aslan, Jeffrey S. Spence, John J. Hart Jr, Elizabeth K. Bartz, Nyaz Didehbani, Molly W. Keebler, Claire M. Gardner, Jeremy F. Strain, Laura F. DeFina and Hanzhang Lu

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This study builds upon previous findings associating neurological gains with tactical brain strategies. Researchers utilized a group of 37 cognitively healthy adults, randomly assigning participants to either a cognitive training group or a control group (no training). The cognitive training group participated in 12 weeks of strategy-based gist-reasoning training, targeting cognitive control of complex information, specifically the ability to extract the "gist" of information encountered in everyday life (e.g., medical, financial, educational or recreational information). In addition, training supported strategies for developing innovative interpretations and approaches to problem solving. Participants were tested pre-training, at midpoint and post-training. Findings suggest the cognitive training group experienced increased brain blood flow in regions integral to reasoning and executive thought, strengthening their ability to abstract broad ideas from detailed information. This outcome supports the potential of strategy-based cognitive training to build cognitive reserve and even reverse negative consequences associated with age-related brain changes. 

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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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