The Temporal Dynamics of Brain Plasticity in Aging.
de Lange A-MG., Bråthen ACS., Rohani DA., Fjell AM., Walhovd KB.
Cognitive training has been suggested as a possible remediation of decline in brain structure with older age. However, it is unknown whether training effects are transient or enduring, as no studies have examined training-induced plasticity relative to decline in older adults across extended periods with multiple intervention phases. We investigated the temporal dynamics of brain plasticity across periods on and off memory training, hypothesizing that (1) a decline in white matter (WM) microstructure would be observed across the duration of the study and (2) that periods of memory training would moderate the WM microstructural decline. In total, 107 older adults followed a 40-week program, including 2 training periods separated by periods with no intervention. The general decline in WM microstructure observed across the duration of the study was moderated following the training periods, demonstrating that cognitive training may mitigate age-related brain deterioration. The training-related improvements were estimated to subside over time, indicating that continuous training may be a premise for the enduring attenuation of neural decline. Memory improvements were largely maintained after the initial training period, and may thus not rely on continuous training to the same degree as WM microstructure.