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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015, Article ID 535618, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/535618
Research Article

Neural Plastic Effects of Cognitive Training on Aging Brain

1Laboratory of Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
2Laboratory of Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
3Institute of Clinical Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
4Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
5Alzheimer’s Disease Research Network, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
6Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
7Fung Yiu King Hospital, Hong Kong
8Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
9State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Received 1 December 2014; Revised 4 March 2015; Accepted 11 March 2015

Academic Editor: Ching P. Lin

Copyright © 2015 Natalie T. Y. Leung et al. 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.

Abstract

Increasing research has evidenced that our brain retains a capacity to change in response to experience until late adulthood. This implies that cognitive training can possibly ameliorate age-associated cognitive decline by inducing training-specific neural plastic changes at both neural and behavioral levels. This longitudinal study examined the behavioral effects of a systematic thirteen-week cognitive training program on attention and working memory of older adults who were at risk of cognitive decline. These older adults were randomly assigned to the Cognitive Training Group () and the Active Control Group (). Findings clearly indicated that training induced improvement in auditory and visual-spatial attention and working memory. The training effect was specific to the experience provided because no significant difference in verbal and visual-spatial memory between the two groups was observed. This pattern of findings is consistent with the prediction and the principle of experience-dependent neuroplasticity. Findings of our study provided further support to the notion that the neural plastic potential continues until older age. The baseline cognitive status did not correlate with pre- versus posttraining changes to any cognitive variables studied, suggesting that the initial cognitive status may not limit the neuroplastic potential of the brain at an old age.