Cognitive training enhances neurophysiological responses in “at risk” older adults

2013 Research Award Highly Commended

Dr Loren Mowszowski, Faculty of Human Sciences

Cognitive training may have the capacity to delay or slow cognitive decline in older adults “at risk” of dementia; however little is known about its capacity to alter underlying brain functioning.

This novel application of a neurophysiological biomarker, the “Mismatch Negativity” (MMN) event-related potential paradigm, demonstrated a reduced response in “at risk” groups relative to healthy older controls, which was also associated with neuropsychological and psychosocial functioning. These findings suggest that MMN may have utility as a marker of brain dysfunction.

Results also demonstrated that the MMN response in “at risk” older adults was enhanced following a Healthy Brain Ageing cognitive training program, suggesting improved fundamental information processing and alterations in underlying brain functioning following this non-pharmacological intervention.

This cognitive training program is engaging, cost-effective and has the potential to be implemented across a variety of clinical or community settings. Replication and longitudinal follow-up is now warranted to clarify the potential for this program to delay cognitive decline in this group.

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