Special Issue "Risk and Protective Factors for Neurocognitive Aging"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Kamen Tsvetanov

Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: ageing; fMRI; neuroscience; connectomics; brain dynamics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With the global demographic shift towards an older population, there is a pressing need to understand how we can maintain wellbeing, as well as work and live independently, in old age. There are many influences on successful ageing, which can be cultural, social, genetic, health and our own lifestyle decisions. These have an effect on our brain, and how well our brain works for what we call cognitive health—good memory, perception, language, judgment, and so on.

This Special Issue will present and discuss various demographic, health and lifestyle factors that have impact on the fundamental processes of neural and cognitive ageing. Contributions are encouraged that provide a bridge between modifiable risk and protective factors, brain function and cognitive ability across the healthy lifespan.

Dr. Kamen Tsvetanov
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ageing
  • risk factors
  • lifestyle
  • demographics
  • health
  • functional neuroimaging
  • structural neuroimaging
  • brain
  • lifespan
  • cognition

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A Pilot Study on Brain Plasticity of Functional Connectivity Modulated by Cognitive Training in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(5), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7050050
Received: 29 November 2016 / Revised: 8 March 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 29 April 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1361 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alters the functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) but also the topological properties of the functional connectome. Cognitive training (CT) is a tool to slow down AD progression and is likely to impact on functional connectivity. In this [...] Read more.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alters the functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) but also the topological properties of the functional connectome. Cognitive training (CT) is a tool to slow down AD progression and is likely to impact on functional connectivity. In this pilot study, we aimed at investigating brain functional changes after a period of CT and active control (AC) in a group of 26 subjects with mild AD (mAD), 26 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and a control group of 29 healthy elderly (HE) people. They all underwent a CT and AC in a counterbalanced order following a crossover design. Resting-state functional MRI and neuropsychological testing were acquired before and after each period. We tested post-CT and post-AC changes of cognitive abilities, of the functional connectivity of the DMN, and of topological network properties derived from graph theory and network-based statistics. Only CT produced functional changes, increasing the functional connectivity of the posterior DMN in all three groups. mAD also showed functional changes in the medial temporal lobe and topological changes in the anterior cingulum, whereas aMCI showed more widespread topological changes involving the frontal lobes, the cerebellum and the thalamus. Our results suggest specific functional connectivity changes after CT for aMCI and mAD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk and Protective Factors for Neurocognitive Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Leisure Activities and Change in Cognitive Stability: A Multivariate Approach
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7030027
Received: 8 December 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 25 February 2017 / Published: 1 March 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (253 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Aging is traditionally associated with cognitive decline, attested by slower reaction times and poorer performance in various cognitive tasks, but also by an increase in intraindividual variability (IIV) in cognitive performance. Results concerning how lifestyle activities protect from cognitive decline are mixed in [...] Read more.
Aging is traditionally associated with cognitive decline, attested by slower reaction times and poorer performance in various cognitive tasks, but also by an increase in intraindividual variability (IIV) in cognitive performance. Results concerning how lifestyle activities protect from cognitive decline are mixed in the literature and all focused on how it affects mean performance. However, IIV has been proven to be an index more sensitive to age differences, and very little is known about the relationships between lifestyle activities and change in IIV in aging. This longitudinal study explores the association between frequency of physical, social, intellectual, artistic, or cultural activities and age-related change in various cognitive abilities, considering both mean performance and IIV. Ninety-six participants, aged 64–93 years, underwent a battery of cognitive tasks at four measurements over a seven-year period, and filled out a lifestyle activity questionnaire. Linear multilevel models were used to analyze the associations between change in cognitive performance and five types of activities. Results showed that the practice of leisure activities was more strongly associated with IIV than with mean performance, both when considering overall level and change in performance. Relationships with IIV were dependent of the cognitive tasks considered and overall results showed protective effects of cultural, physical and intellectual activities on IIV. These results underline the need for considering IIV in the study of age-related cognitive change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk and Protective Factors for Neurocognitive Aging)
Open AccessArticle
The Effect of the Human Peptide GHK on Gene Expression Relevant to Nervous System Function and Cognitive Decline
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7020020
Received: 30 November 2016 / Revised: 7 February 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1920 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Neurodegeneration, the progressive death of neurons, loss of brain function, and cognitive decline is an increasing problem for senior populations. Its causes are poorly understood and therapies are largely ineffective. Neurons, with high energy and oxygen requirements, are especially vulnerable to detrimental factors, [...] Read more.
Neurodegeneration, the progressive death of neurons, loss of brain function, and cognitive decline is an increasing problem for senior populations. Its causes are poorly understood and therapies are largely ineffective. Neurons, with high energy and oxygen requirements, are especially vulnerable to detrimental factors, including age-related dysregulation of biochemical pathways caused by altered expression of multiple genes. GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a human copper-binding peptide with biological actions that appear to counter aging-associated diseases and conditions. GHK, which declines with age, has health promoting effects on many tissues such as chondrocytes, liver cells and human fibroblasts, improves wound healing and tissue regeneration (skin, hair follicles, stomach and intestinal linings, boney tissue), increases collagen, decorin, angiogenesis, and nerve outgrowth, possesses anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and anti-anxiety effects, increases cellular stemness and the secretion of trophic factors by mesenchymal stem cells. Studies using the Broad Institute Connectivity Map show that GHK peptide modulates expression of multiple genes, resetting pathological gene expression patterns back to health. GHK has been recommended as a treatment for metastatic cancer, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, inflammation, acute lung injury, activating stem cells, pain, and anxiety. Here, we present GHK’s effects on gene expression relevant to the nervous system health and function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk and Protective Factors for Neurocognitive Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Reducing Fall Risk with Combined Motor and Cognitive Training in Elderly Fallers
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7020019
Received: 7 November 2016 / Revised: 27 January 2017 / Accepted: 7 February 2017 / Published: 10 February 2017
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (620 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background. Falling is a major clinical problem in elderly people, demanding effective solutions. At present, the only effective intervention is motor training of balance and strength. Executive function-based training (EFt) might be effective at preventing falls according to evidence showing a relationship between [...] Read more.
Background. Falling is a major clinical problem in elderly people, demanding effective solutions. At present, the only effective intervention is motor training of balance and strength. Executive function-based training (EFt) might be effective at preventing falls according to evidence showing a relationship between executive functions and gait abnormalities. The aim was to assess the effectiveness of a motor and a cognitive treatment developed within the EU co-funded project I-DONT-FALL. Methods. In a sample of 481 elderly people at risk of falls recruited in this multicenter randomised controlled trial, the effectiveness of a motor treatment (pure motor or mixed with EFt) of 24 one-hour sessions delivered through an i-Walker with a non-motor treatment (pure EFt or control condition) was evaluated. Similarly, a 24 one-hour session cognitive treatment (pure EFt or mixed with motor training), delivered through a touch-screen computer was compared with a non-cognitive treatment (pure motor or control condition). Results. Motor treatment, particularly when mixed with EFt, reduced significantly fear of falling (F(1,478) = 6.786, p = 0.009) although to a limited extent (ES −0.25) restricted to the period after intervention. Conclusions. This study suggests the effectiveness of motor treatment empowered by EFt in reducing fear of falling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk and Protective Factors for Neurocognitive Aging)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Physical Activity: A Viable Way to Reduce the Risks of Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Vascular Dementia in Older Adults
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7020022
Received: 30 November 2016 / Revised: 23 January 2017 / Accepted: 3 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (678 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A recent alarming rise of neurodegenerative diseases in the developed world is one of the major medical issues affecting older adults. In this review, we provide information about the associations of physical activity (PA) with major age-related neurodegenerative diseases and syndromes, including Alzheimer’s [...] Read more.
A recent alarming rise of neurodegenerative diseases in the developed world is one of the major medical issues affecting older adults. In this review, we provide information about the associations of physical activity (PA) with major age-related neurodegenerative diseases and syndromes, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and mild cognitive impairment. We also provide evidence of PA’s role in reducing the risks of these diseases and helping to improve cognitive outcomes in older adults. Finally, we describe some potential mechanisms by which this protective effect occurs, providing guidelines for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk and Protective Factors for Neurocognitive Aging)
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