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Neurobiol Aging. 2007 Feb;28(2):272-83. Epub 2006 Feb 9.

Training-induced plasticity in older adults: effects of training on hemispheric asymmetry.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Department of Psychology, Urbana, IL, United States.


The extent to which cortical plasticity is retained in old age remains an understudied question, despite large social and scientific implications of such a result. Neuroimaging research reports individual differences in age-related activation, thereby educing speculation that some degree of plasticity may remain throughout life. We conducted a randomized longitudinal dual-task training study to investigate if performance improvements (a) change the magnitude or pattern of fMRI activation, thereby suggesting some plasticity retention in old age and (b) result in a reduction in asymmetry and an increase in age differences in fMRI activation as a compensatory model of performance-related activation predicts. Performance improvements were correlated with an increase in hemispheric asymmetry and a reduction in age differences in ventral and dorsal prefrontal activation. These results provide evidence for plasticity in old age and are discussed in relation to an alternative argument for the role of reduced asymmetry in performance improvements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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