Research Topic

Cognitive and Brain Plasticity Induced by Physical Exercise, Cognitive Training, Video Games and Combined Interventions

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This research topic aims to get together the latest interventional and cross-sectional studies investigating the cognitive and neural effects of physical and cognitive activity across the lifespan. The premise of neuroplasticity on enhancing cognitive functioning among healthy as well as cognitively impaired ...

This research topic aims to get together the latest interventional and cross-sectional studies investigating the cognitive and neural effects of physical and cognitive activity across the lifespan. The premise of neuroplasticity on enhancing cognitive functioning among healthy as well as cognitively impaired individuals, and the potential of harnessing these processes to prevent cognitive decline attract substantial scientific and public interest. Indeed, the systematic evidence base for cognitive training, video games and physical exercise is growing rapidly, thus paving the way for research geared at better understanding of the underlying mechanisms and translation to clinical practice.

To date, most cognitive training studies have focused on measuring gains immediately after training, typically demonstrating effects on the trained tasks or closely-related transfer measures (i.e., near transfer). Yet the potency of cognitive training depends on evidence of: (1) far transfer from training to untrained functions; (2) the durability of training effects, including what booster regimens are needed to maintain cognitive benefits in young and older adults; and the extent to which cognitive training can affect clinically meaningful outcomes. This topic will welcome primary studies as well as meta-analyses tapping these and related questions.

Video game training has also shown to enhance perceptual and cognitive functions in young and older individuals. Video games are inexpensive, gratifying and fun, and thus may be more tolerable than traditional cognitive training for long-term use. Regular and occasional video game players reported significantly higher levels of wellbeing and suffer less depression than non-video game players, but could potentially lead to addiction, sedentary lifestyle and social isolation. Maximizing the benefits of video games will require studies dealing with questions such as: (1) what benefits should be expected from specific types of games, (2) how to account for individual differences; and (c) how to address expectancy bias and placebo effects in study designs.

Physical activity has been repeatedly shown to improve cognitive functioning in all age groups, particularly in older adults. Here we welcome articles that investigate (1) the dose-response relationships of different types of exercise as well as the long-term effects of exercise on various cognitive domains, (2) the combined analysis of functional an structural as well as behavioral data and eventually other biomarkers, and (3) the association between acute and chronic exercise effects; and the potential of combining physical and cognitive exercise for enhancing cognitive performance and brain health.


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