Aging, training, and the brain: a review and future directions.
As the population ages, the need for effective methods to maintain or even improve older adults' cognitive performance becomes increasingly pressing. Here we provide a brief review of the major intervention approaches that have been the focus of past research with healthy older adults (strategy training, multi-modal interventions, cardiovascular exercise, and process-based training), and new approaches that incorporate neuroimaging. As outcome measures, neuroimaging data on intervention-related changes in volume, structural integrity; and functional activation can provide important insights into the nature and duration of an intervention's effects. Perhaps even more intriguingly, several recent studies have used neuroimaging data as a guide to identify core cognitive processes that can be trained in one task with effective transfer to other tasks that share the same underlying processes. Although many open questions remain, this research has greatly increased our understanding of how to promote successful aging of cognition and the brain.