Geriatrics: Cognitive training enhanced innovative thinking and brain networks


In a pilot study, the researchers from the Center for Brain Health demonstrated that cognitive training improved in innovative thinking and brain responses in older patients (age ≥55 years). The specific strategic cognitive training program improved innovation in healthy adults, where the ability to synthesize complex information and generate a multitude of high-level interpretations was evaluated. The findings were published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience .

"Middle-age to older adults should feel empowered that they can reverse the decline and improve innovative thinking in many circumstances," said Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, from Center for Brain Health. "Innovative cognition – the kind of thinking that reinforces and preserves complex decision-making, intellect and psychological well-being – does not need to decline with age This study reveals that cognitive training may help enhance cognitive capacities and build resilience against decline in healthy older adults. "

The Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART) program was developed at the Center for Brain Health, which focused on learning strategies that improve attention, reasoning and broad-based perspective-taking.

A randomized pilot trial was conducted by the researchers at the Center for Brain Health. The effect of cognitive training in SMART was compared to aerobic exercise training and control subjects on innovative cognition. A total of 58 participants were assessed at baseline, mid and post-training using innovative cognition measures and functional MRI. The study also provided an opportunity to test a reliable assessment tool to measure innovative cognition, which was neglected due to the complexity of quantifying innovative thinking.

The cognitive training group (SMART) was beneficial to 19 participants. They showed significant pre-post-training in high-quality innovation performance compared to the other groups. There was increased connectivity among brain cells in the central executive network of the brain observed in the reasoning training group.

Dr. Sina Aslan, from the Center for Brain Health, mentioned, "Advances in the field of MRI are allowing us to measure different aspects of brain function." Higher activity in the central executive network of the cognitive training group corresponded to improved innovation. The cognitive function and creative thinking were enhanced by staying mentally active.

Further studies are needed to understand how to ensure the benefit persists. "Reasoning training offers a promising cost-effective intervention to enhance innovative cognition. This is one of the most valued capacities and fruitful outputs of the human mind at any age. "