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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Aging Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00267

Spatio-temporal neural changes after task-switching training in old age

  • 1Psychology, Saarland University, Germany
  • 2University of Trier, Germany

In the present study, we aimed at examining selective neural changes after task-switching training in old age by not only considering the spatial location but also the timescale of brain activation changes (i.e., sustained/ block-related or transient/ trial-related timescales). We assigned a sample of 50 older adults to a task-switching training or an active single-task control group. We administered two task paradigms, either sensitive to transient (i.e., a context-updating task) or sustained (i.e., a delayed-recognition working-memory task) dynamics of cognitive control. These dynamics were captured by utilizing an appropriate event-related or block-related functional magnetic resonance imaging design. We captured selective changes in task activation during the untrained tasks after task-switching training compared to an active control group. Results revealed changes at the neural level that were not evident from only behavioral data. Importantly, neural changes in the transient-sensitive context updating task were found on the same timescale but in a different region (i.e., in the left inferior parietal lobule) than in the task-switching training task (i.e., ventrolateral PFC, inferior frontal junction, superior parietal lobule), only pointing to temporal overlap, while neural changes in the sustained-sensitive delayed-recognition task overlapped in both timescale and region with the task-switching training task (i.e., in the basal ganglia), pointing to spatio-temporal overlap. These results suggest that neural changes after task-switching training seem to be critically supported by the temporal organization of neural processing.

Keywords: Aging, Cognitive control and switching, task-switching training, fMRI, Spatio-temporal overlap, Context updating, delayed recognition

Received: 15 Aug 2018; Accepted: 17 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Dörrenbächer, Schütz, Woirgardt, Wu, Zimmer and Kray. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sandra Dörrenbächer, Saarland University, Psychology, Saarbrücken, Germany, S.Doerrenbaecher@googlemail.com