Neurocognitive Plasticity: A Longitudinal Study of Memory Training and White Matter Microstructure
Appears in the following Collection
- Psykologisk institutt 
AbstractThe assumption that the brain’s structure can be influenced by our own conscious effort is not only intriguing; it may have significant implications related to cognitive and brain health throughout the lifespan. The brain is highly vulnerable to the impact of age, and thus knowledge about the potential to influence age-related decline is of importance to help increase the number of well-functioning years in the ageing population. During the last decade, the field of neuroimaging has been marked by considerable interest in the effects of cognitive training on both cognition and the brain. Several studies involving cognitive training paradigms have shown positive training effects in both young and older adults (Burki, Ludwig, Chicherio, & de Ribaupierre, 2014; Engvig et al., 2012; Jones et al., 2006; Lovden, Bodammer, et al., 2010; Nyberg et al., 2003; Scholz, Klein, Behrens, & Johansen-Berg, 2009). However, a number of questions remain unanswered: Why do some individuals benefit more from cognitive training relative to others? How does plastic potential change with age? Are structural brain alterations a neurobiological substrate for behavioural improvements? Is continuous cognitive training a premise for the persistence of training-related brain changes? The objective of this thesis was to address these questions through a longitudinal memory-training study including young and older participants. Paper I focuses on the brain’s white matter microstructure as a potential explanatory factor for the large individual variation in training gains observed in older adults. Paper II centres on age differences in plasticity, in addition to examining relationships between cognitive and microstructural plasticity. Paper III provides novel evidence of the temporal dynamics of WM microstructural plasticity in ageing. In summary, the results from the three papers indicate that 1) individual differences in microstructural brain characteristics influence the ability to benefit from memory training in older age, 2) plasticity is preserved into older age, and microstructural alterations may be part of a neurobiological substrate for cognitive improvements in ageing, 3) cognitive training has the potential to moderate the magnitude of age-related decline in white matter microstructure, but 4) continuous training appears to be a premise for the persistence of such effects.
List of papers
|I. de Lange, A.M.G., Bråthen, A.C.S., Grydeland, H., Sexton, C., Johansen- Berg, H., Andersson, J.L.R., Rohani, D.A., Nyberg, L., Fjell, A.M., & Walhovd, K.B. White Matter Integrity as a Marker for Cognitive Plasticity in Aging. Neurobiology of Aging. Neurobiology of Aging. 2016, 47, 74-82. The paper is available in DUO: http://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-57606|
|II. de Lange, A.M.G., Bråthen, A.C.S., Rohani, D.A., Grydeland, H., L., Fjell, A.M., & Walhovd, K.B. The Effects of Memory Training on Behavioral and Microstructural Plasticity in Young and Older Adults (submitted) To be published. The paper is not available in DUO awaiting publishing.|
|III. de Lange, A.M.G., Bråthen, A.C.S., Rohani, D.A., Fjell, A.M & Walhovd, K.B. Age-related Decline in Brain Structure Moderated by Cognitive Training: The Temporal Dynamics of Brain Plasticity in Aging (to be submitted) To be published. The paper is not available in DUO awaiting publishing.|