Older adults with a self-reported cognitive complaint show improved executive control following a 24-week multi-modality exercise training program


Exercise programs involving aerobic and resistance training (i.e., multiple-modality) improve cognition and executive control in older adults at risk, or experiencing, cognitive decline. It is, however, unclear whether cognitive training within a multiple-modality program elicits an additive benefit to executive/cognitive processes. This represents an important question because the identification of optimal training programs may serve to delay, or ameliorate, further cognitive decline. Here we had individuals with a self-reported cognitive complaint (SCC) participate in a 24-week multiple-modality (i.e., the M2 group) exercise intervention program. In addition, a separate group of individuals with a SCC completed the same aerobic and resistance training as the M2 group (N=31) but also completed a cognitive-based stepping task (i.e., multiple-modality, mind-motor intervention: M4 group [N=32]). To address executive control we employed a pre- and post-intervention assessment of antisaccades (i.e., eye movement mirror-symmetrical to a target). Antisaccades are an ideal tool for the study of individuals with subtle executive deficits because of its hands- and language-free nature and because the neural mechanisms regulating the task are linked to neuropathology in cognitive decline. Results showed that M2 and M4 group antisaccade reaction times reliably decreased 20 and 26 ms, respectively, from pre- to post-intervention and the magnitude of the decrease was consistent across groups. Thus, a cognitive training component did not engender an additive benefit to post-intervention executive control. As such, we propose that multiple-modality training provides a sufficient intervention to improve executive control in persons with a SCC

Acknowledgments: Supported by NSERC and CIHR.