You can train your brain through specific task exercises to avoid the functional declines associated with the aging process. Kirk Erickson, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, and the author of Neurobiology of Aging has studied the effects of cognitive exercises on the ventral prefrontal cortex, a site of age-related atrophy. Dr. Erickson’s study suggests that age-related cognitive decline can be reduced and possibly reversed with training. The older adults (ages 55 to 76) who received training demonstrated improved test performance. MRI imaging revealed more activation in the ventral prefrontal cortex indicating a relationship between behavioral improvement and the change in the measure of activity.
We have long used cognitive retraining in our work with individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury and have observed the positive results. Dr. Erickson’s work supports our belief that the brain can be trained and that enhanced performance can occur from the training experience.