Monday, February 27, 2006

Training Helps Your Brain Stay Young

Training may deliver a bonus benefit to aging human brains, according to research at the University of Illinois.

Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology used functional MRIs on older and younger adults to compare the parts of the brain involved in executive control matters, such as scheduling, planning, multi-tasking and working memory. These areas have been linked to cognitive declines in older people.

In the study, before and after brain analysis of people who received training for certain time-measured tasks showed dramatic results in ventral regions of the brain, noted lead author Kirk I. Erickson, a psychology postdoctoral research associate.

Reviewing the results, Erickson said "even though the older adults start out with a lower amount of activation before training, those who were trained actually increased the amount of activity."

In other words, training helped to close the performance gap between younger and older brains.

"After training there are less age-related differences. Older adults begin to look more like the younger adults in brain activation," Erickson said.