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      Environmental influences on cognitive and brain plasticity during aging.

      The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences

      Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, physiology, Animals, Cognition, Education, Exercise, Humans, Life Style, Middle Aged, Neuronal Plasticity

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          Abstract

          In the current article, we provide a critical review of the extant literature that has focused on environmental influences on cognitive and brain plasticity over the adult life span. The review includes both human epidemiological, and human and nonhuman cross-sectional and longitudinal research. We review a number of factors that have been suggested to reduce age-related cognitive decline including both formal and informal education, leisure pursuits, intellectual engagement, and expertise in different skill domains. We also examine the literature on cognitive and physical fitness training. We conclude with a discussion of the gaps in the literature and suggestions for future research.

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          Most cited references 140

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          The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.

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            More hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment.

            Neurogenesis occurs in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus throughout the life of a rodent, but the function of these new neurons and the mechanisms that regulate their birth are unknown. Here we show that significantly more new neurons exist in the dentate gyrus of mice exposed to an enriched environment compared with littermates housed in standard cages. We also show, using unbiased stereology, that the enriched mice have a larger hippocampal granule cell layer and 15 per cent more granule cell neurons in the dentate gyrus.
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              Hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults: the HAROLD model.

              A model of the effects of aging on brain activity during cognitive performance is introduced. The model is called HAROLD (hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults), and it states that, under similar circumstances, prefrontal activity during cognitive performances tends to be less lateralized in older adults than in younger adults. The model is supported by functional neuroimaging and other evidence in the domains of episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, perception, and inhibitory control. Age-related hemispheric asymmetry reductions may have a compensatory function or they may reflect a dedifferentiation process. They may have a cognitive or neural origin, and they may reflect regional or network mechanisms. The HAROLD model is a cognitive neuroscience model that integrates ideas and findings from psychology and neuroscience of aging.
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                15472160

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