Age Related Cognitive Decline
“There is currently a paucity of effective interventions to prevent or treat cognitive decline and prevent dementia in the elderly. While cognitive training (CT) can be effective in these domains, the overall efficacy and transfer of CT has been limited. By pairing (stimulation technology) with CT, we have the potential for enhancing the neuroplastic response of brain tissue engaged during CT and enhancing training benefits.”
A.J. Woods, PhD
Department of Aging and Geriatric Research
University of Florida
Dementia and mild cognitive impairment, cognitive changes that accompany aging, are common. Even short of that, we may notice more subtle changes, declines, in our thinking ability as we age. Processing speed, attention, memory, language, visuospatial abilities, executive functioning, reasoning; these functions often peak early in life and then steadily decline throughout our lives.
Cognitive decline can be attributed to a general loss over the lifespan of grey matter volume and reduction of synaptic density in key areas of the brain. Recently neuroscientists have turned their attention to white matter and have been surprised to discover the essential nature of the active role it plays in cognition. Previously it was seen as only passive support for grey matter, or neuronal networks. In exploring this entirely new continent, this “other” brain, we are also discovering how age effects declines in white matter volume as well, and the integrity of white matter tracts essential to brain and cognitive function.
Research and clinical experience have supported traditional neurofeedback (NFB) and HEG biofeedback as efficacious in addressing cognitive decline, technologies we have been using for years with great benefit. More recently, the technologies of active neurotherapy are being researched and noted for their added benefit in stemming the tide of age-related cognitive decline.
Neurofeedback training achieves its lasting effects because the brain engages in a learning process. We now use stimulation technologies to first create a state of heightened neuroplasticity that will accelerate the learning in the NFB process. This is the cutting edge of neurotherapy. In addition, this plasticity has been found to enhance the use of computer based cognitive training programs that are helping with cognitive enhancement.
After creating heightened plasticity, other active neurotherapeutic approaches are then combined with classic neurofeedback to simultaneously entrain and train targeted frequencies of brain activity. This enhanced approach also increases blood flow to the area of the brain, increases availability of oxygen, reduces free radicals and inflammation, increases cell proliferation, and helps with general healing and regulation of white matter tracts as well.