Learning to remember: Cognitive training-induced attenuation of age-related memory decline depends on sex and cognitive demand, and can transfer to untrained cognitive domains

Joshua S. Talboom, Stephen West, Elizabeth B. Engler-Chiurazzi, Craig K. Enders, Ian Crain, Heather Bimonte-Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aging is associated with progressive changes in learning and memory. A potential approach to attenuate age-related cognitive decline is cognitive training. In this study, adult male and female rats were given either repeated exposure to a T-maze, or no exposure to any maze, and then tested on a final battery of cognitive tasks. Two groups of each sex were tested from 6 to 18 months old on the same T-maze; Group one received a version testing spatial reference memory, and Group two received only the procedural testing components with minimal cognitive demand. Groups three and four of each sex had no maze exposure until the final battery, and were comprised of aged or young rats, respectively. The final maze battery included the practiced T-maze plus two novel tasks, one with a similar, and one with a different, memory type to the practice task. Group five of each sex was not maze tested, serving as an aged control for the effects of maze testing on neurotrophin protein levels in cognitive brain regions. Results showed that adult intermittent cognitive training enhanced performance on the practice task when aged in both sexes, that cognitive training benefits transferred to novel tasks only in females, and that cognitive demand was necessary for these effects, since rats receiving only the procedural testing components showed no improvement on the final maze battery. Further, for both sexes, rats that showed faster learning when young demonstrated better memory when aged. Age-related increases in neurotrophin concentrations in several brain regions were revealed, which were related to performance on the training task only in females. This longitudinal study supports the tenet that cognitive training can help one remember later in life, with broader enhancements and associations with neurotrophins in females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2791-2802
Number of pages12
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Volume35
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Keywords

  • Age-related memory decline
  • Aging
  • Cognitive training
  • Enrichment
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Neurobics
  • Spatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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