Study: A combined cognitive-physical training approach may enhance both mind and body as we age

A com­bined cog­ni­tive and fit­ness train­ing helps restore old­er adults’ atten­tion abil­i­ties to young adult lev­els (Psy­Post):

A new study found promis­ing results for a com­bined phys­i­cal fit­ness and cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tion designed to enhance neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in old­er adults. Using a motion-cap­ture video game, the inter­ven­tion appeared to reme­di­ate age-relat­ed declines in atten­tion. The find­ings were pub­lished in the jour­nal npj Aging.

With age, cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties nat­u­ral­ly decline. But there is some evi­dence that this decline can be slowed with train­ing. For exam­ple, cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions that lever­age neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty have shown poten­tial in improv­ing the cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties of old­er adults. Addi­tion­al­ly, phys­i­cal fit­ness inter­ven­tions have been found to improve old­er adults’ cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties as well as their phys­i­cal health. This pat­tern of find­ings sug­gests that an inter­ven­tion that com­bines both cog­ni­tion and fit­ness may offer the most cog­ni­tive benefits.

My back­ground is actu­al­ly in Kine­si­ol­o­gy, and I’ve always been excit­ed to do a cog­ni­tive train­ing study that involved exer­cise in a tar­get­ed fash­ion,” said study author Joaquin A. Anguera, the direc­tor of Neuroscape‘s Clin­i­cal Divi­sion and an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co. “Some peo­ple want to do cog­ni­tive train­ing while mov­ing rather than sit­ting down, and that real­ly spoke to me as a pos­si­bil­i­ty for real ben­e­fits giv­en anec­do­tal sto­ries about games like ‘Dance Dance Revolution.’”

The Study:

Inte­grat­ed cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal fit­ness train­ing enhances atten­tion abil­i­ties in old­er adults (npj Aging). From the Abstract:

  • Pre­serv­ing atten­tion abil­i­ties is of great con­cern to old­er adults who are moti­vat­ed to main­tain their qual­i­ty of life. Both cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal fit­ness inter­ven­tions have been uti­lized in inter­ven­tion stud­ies to assess main­te­nance and enhance­ment of atten­tion abil­i­ties in seniors, and a cou­pling of these approach­es is a com­pelling strat­e­gy to but­tress both cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal health in a time- and resource-effec­tive man­ner. With this per­spec­tive, we cre­at­ed a closed-loop, motion-cap­ture video game (Body-Brain Train­er: BBT) that adapts a player’s cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal demands in an inte­grat­ed approach, thus cre­at­ing a per­son­al­ized and cohe­sive expe­ri­ence across both domains. Old­er adults who engaged in two months of BBT improved on both phys­i­cal fit­ness (mea­sures of blood pres­sure and bal­ance) and atten­tion (behav­ioral and neur­al met­rics of atten­tion on a con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance task) out­come mea­sures beyond that of an expectan­cy matched, active, place­bo con­trol group, with main­te­nance of improved atten­tion per­for­mance evi­denced 1 year lat­er. Fol­low­ing train­ing, the BBT group’s improve­ment on the atten­tion out­come mea­sure exceed­ed per­for­mance lev­els attained by an untrained group of 20-year olds, and showed age-equi­li­bra­tion of a neur­al sig­na­ture of atten­tion shown to decline with age: mid­line frontal theta pow­er. These find­ings high­light the poten­tial ben­e­fits of an inte­grat­ed, cog­ni­tive-phys­i­cal, closed-loop train­ing plat­form as a pow­er­ful tool for both cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal enhance­ment in old­er adults.

The Study in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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