Effects of working-memory training on prefrontal recruitment in healthy elderly and Mild Cognitive Impairment patients

Institution: Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre

Investigator(s): Jurgen Claassen, Roy Kessels, Anouk Vermeij

Program: Cogmed QM

Background & Aim: Age-related decline in cognitive function and brain structure may to some extent be compensated by the recruitment of additional neural resources during cognitive performance (e.g. Park and Reuter-Lorenz, 2009). Working memory, i.e. the ability to keep information active and ‘online’, is particularly sensitive to age-related decline; aging is associated with both decrements in working memory capacity and alterations in working memory processing networks. It is hypothesized that an important determinant of working memory function is the ability to keep the prefrontal areas of the brain engaged. The primary aim of this study is to establish whether prefrontal compensatory mechanisms during working memory performance may be enhanced by working memory training, both in healthy older adults and MCI patients. The secondary aim is to establish age- and disease-related neural and vascular changes which may influence compensatory brain activation in healthy older adults and MCI patients, and hence may influence the results of the cognitive training.

Population & Sample Size: N = 52 healthy and MCI adults, ages 60 -80 years
• n = 13 MCI adults in adaptive Cogmed training group
• n = 13 healthy adults in adaptive Cogmed training group
• n = 13 MCI adults in passive control group
• n = 13 healthy adults in passive control group

Design: Randomized, placebo controlled, test-retest, 3 month follow up, functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)

To read more about this research group, click here.