Article: article from journal or magazin.
The pattern and Loci of training-induced brain changes in healthy older adults are predicted by the nature of the intervention.
Publication types: Journal Article Publication Status: epublish
There is enormous interest in designing training methods for reducing cognitive decline in healthy older adults. Because it is impaired with aging, multitasking has often been targeted and has been shown to be malleable with appropriate training. Investigating the effects of cognitive training on functional brain activation might provide critical indication regarding the mechanisms that underlie those positive effects, as well as provide models for selecting appropriate training methods. The few studies that have looked at brain correlates of cognitive training indicate a variable pattern and location of brain changes - a result that might relate to differences in training formats. The goal of this study was to measure the neural substrates as a function of whether divided attentional training programs induced the use of alternative processes or whether it relied on repeated practice. Forty-eight older adults were randomly allocated to one of three training programs. In the SINGLE REPEATED training, participants practiced an alphanumeric equation and a visual detection task, each under focused attention. In the DIVIDED FIXED training, participants practiced combining verification and detection by divided attention, with equal attention allocated to both tasks. In the DIVIDED VARIABLE training, participants completed the task by divided attention, but were taught to vary the attentional priority allocated to each task. Brain activation was measured with fMRI pre- and post-training while completing each task individually and the two tasks combined. The three training programs resulted in markedly different brain changes. Practice on individual tasks in the SINGLE REPEATED training resulted in reduced brain activation whereas DIVIDED VARIABLE training resulted in a larger recruitment of the right superior and middle frontal gyrus, a region that has been involved in multitasking. The type of training is a critical factor in determining the pattern of brain activation.
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