Cognitive plasticity: effects of cognitive training and physical exercise
- Louis Bherer, PhD
- Wednesday 25 January 2017
- Faculty of Social Science
2333 AK LEIDEN
Numerous studies suggest that cognitive training can help improve cognitive performance and that this improvement is associated with identifiable patterns of brain plasticity (see Belleville & Bherer, 2012 for a review). An issue is to what extent cognitive training interventions lead to significant benefits that transfer to real life situations. Physical exercise can also help improve cognition in older adults (see Bherer, Erickson & Lui-Ambrose, 2013 for a review). Research from our lab tries to better understand how cognitive training and physical exercise can help improve cognition in healthy older adults and those suffering from non-neurological chronic medical conditions. Our results suggest that although transfer effects are sometimes very limited, cognitive training can also lead to more than just task specific learning and thus supports the notion that cognitive plasticity is preserved in late adulthood. Moreover, physical exercise training can lead to significant benefits in cognitive performance and psychological well being in healthy and frail older adults. Results with patients at risk of cognitive decline also suggest that cognitive training and exercise interventions are promising non-pharmaceutical tools to help improve cognition in older patients.