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THE EFFECT OF BASELINE PERFORMANCE AND AGE ON COGNITIVE TRAINING IMPROVEMENTS IN OLDER ADULTS: A QUALITATIVE REVIEW

J.S. Shaw, S.M.H. Hosseini

Findings that the brain is capable of plasticity up until old age have led to interest in the use of cognitive training as a potential intervention to delay the onset of dementia. However, individuals participating in training regimens differ greatly with respect to their outcomes, demonstrating the importance of considering individual differences, in particular age and baseline performance in a cognitive domain, when evaluating the effectiveness of cognitive training. In this review, we summarize existing literature on cognitive training in adults across the domains of episodic memory, working memory and the task-switching component of executive functioning to clarify the picture on the impact of age and baseline performance on cognitive training-related improvements. Studies targeting episodic memory induced greater improvements in younger adults with more intact cognitive abilities, explained in part by factors specific to episodic memory training. By contrast, older, lower baseline performance adults improved most in several studies targeting working memory in older individuals as well as in the majority of studies targeting executive functioning, suggesting the preservation of neural plasticity in these domains until very old age. Our findings can have important implications for informing the design of future interventions for enhancing cognitive functions in individuals at the prodromal stage of Alzheimer’s Disease and potentially delaying the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Future research should more clearly stratify individuals according to their baseline cognitive abilities and assign specialized, skill-specific cognitive training regimens in order to directly answer the question of how individual differences impact training effectiveness.

CITATION:
J.S. Shaw ; S.M.H. Hosseini ; (2020): The Effect of Baseline Performance and Age on Cognitive Training Improvements in Older Adults: A Qualitative Review . The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (JPAD). http://dx.doi.org/10.14283/jpad.2020.55

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