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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 407074, 8 pages
Review Article

Practice-Oriented Retest Learning as the Basic Form of Cognitive Plasticity of the Aging Brain

Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, JOR823A, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5B 2K3

Received 13 April 2011; Revised 23 August 2011; Accepted 24 August 2011

Academic Editor: Leonardo Pantoni

Copyright © 2011 Lixia Yang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


It has been well documented that aging is associated with declines in a variety of cognitive functions. A growing body of research shows that the age-related cognitive declines are reversible through cognitive training programs, suggesting maintained cognitive plasticity of the aging brain. Retest learning represents a basic form of cognitive plasticity. It has been consistently demonstrated for adults in young-old and old-old ages. Accumulated research indicates that retest learning is effective, robust, endurable and could occur at a more conceptual level beyond item-specific memorization. Recent studies also demonstrate promisingly broader transfer effects from retest practice of activities involving complex executive functioning to other untrained tasks. The results shed light on the development of self-guided mental exercise programs to improve cognitive performance and efficiency of the aging brain. The relevant studies were reviewed, and the findings were discussed in light of their limitations, implications, and future directions.