Cognitive stimulation of the default-mode network modulates functional connectivity in healthy aging

Matteo De Marco, Francesca Meneghello, Davide Duzzi, Jessica Rigon, Cristina Pilosio, Annalena Venneri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A cognitive-stimulation tool was created to regulate functional connectivity within the brain Default-Mode Network (DMN). Computerized exercises were designed based on the hypothesis that repeated task-dependent coactivation of multiple DMN regions would translate into regulation of resting-state network connectivity. Forty seniors (mean age: 65.90 years; SD: 8.53) were recruited and assigned either to an experimental group (n=21) who received one month of intensive cognitive stimulation, or to a control group (n=19) who maintained a regime of daily-life activities explicitly focused on social interactions. An MRI protocol and a battery of neuropsychological tests were administered at baseline and at the end of the study. Changes in the DMN (measured via functional connectivity of posterior-cingulate seeds), in brain volumes, and in cognitive performance were measured with mixed models assessing group-by-timepoint interactions. Moreover, regression models were run to test gray-matter correlates of the various stimulation tasks. Significant associations were found between task performance and gray-matter volume of multiple DMN core regions. Training-dependent up-regulation of functional connectivity was found in the posterior DMN component. This interaction was driven by a pattern of increased connectivity in the training group, while little or no up-regulation was seen in the control group. Minimal changes in brain volumes were found, but there was no change in cognitive performance. The training-dependent regulation of functional connectivity within the posterior DMN component suggests that this stimulation program might exert a beneficial impact in the prevention and treatment of early AD neurodegeneration, in which this neurofunctional pathway is progressively affected by the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-41
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Volume121
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Fingerprint

Brain
Up-Regulation
Control Groups
Neuropsychological Tests
Gyrus Cinguli
Task Performance and Analysis
Interpersonal Relations
Seeds
Gray Matter

Keywords

  • Aged
  • Aging/physiology
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition/physiology
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways/diagnostic imaging
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Teaching

Cite this

Cognitive stimulation of the default-mode network modulates functional connectivity in healthy aging. / De Marco, Matteo; Meneghello, Francesca; Duzzi, Davide; Rigon, Jessica; Pilosio, Cristina; Venneri, Annalena.

In: Brain Research Bulletin, Vol. 121, 03.2016, p. 26-41.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

De Marco, Matteo ; Meneghello, Francesca ; Duzzi, Davide ; Rigon, Jessica ; Pilosio, Cristina ; Venneri, Annalena. / Cognitive stimulation of the default-mode network modulates functional connectivity in healthy aging. In: Brain Research Bulletin. 2016 ; Vol. 121. pp. 26-41.
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abstract = "A cognitive-stimulation tool was created to regulate functional connectivity within the brain Default-Mode Network (DMN). Computerized exercises were designed based on the hypothesis that repeated task-dependent coactivation of multiple DMN regions would translate into regulation of resting-state network connectivity. Forty seniors (mean age: 65.90 years; SD: 8.53) were recruited and assigned either to an experimental group (n=21) who received one month of intensive cognitive stimulation, or to a control group (n=19) who maintained a regime of daily-life activities explicitly focused on social interactions. An MRI protocol and a battery of neuropsychological tests were administered at baseline and at the end of the study. Changes in the DMN (measured via functional connectivity of posterior-cingulate seeds), in brain volumes, and in cognitive performance were measured with mixed models assessing group-by-timepoint interactions. Moreover, regression models were run to test gray-matter correlates of the various stimulation tasks. Significant associations were found between task performance and gray-matter volume of multiple DMN core regions. Training-dependent up-regulation of functional connectivity was found in the posterior DMN component. This interaction was driven by a pattern of increased connectivity in the training group, while little or no up-regulation was seen in the control group. Minimal changes in brain volumes were found, but there was no change in cognitive performance. The training-dependent regulation of functional connectivity within the posterior DMN component suggests that this stimulation program might exert a beneficial impact in the prevention and treatment of early AD neurodegeneration, in which this neurofunctional pathway is progressively affected by the disease.",
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AU - Venneri, Annalena

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