Cognitive and Neural Effects of Semantic Encoding Strategy Training in Older Adults
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Prior research suggests that older adults are less likely than young adults to use effective learning strategies during intentional encoding. This functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated whether training older adults to use semantic encoding strategies can increase their self-initiated use of these strategies and improve their recognition memory. The effects of training on older adults' brain activity during intentional encoding were also examined. Training increased older adults' self-initiated semantic encoding strategy use and eliminated pretraining age differences in recognition memory following intentional encoding. Training also increased older adults' brain activity in the medial superior frontal gyrus, right precentral gyrus, and left caudate during intentional encoding. In addition, older adults' training-related changes in recognition memory were strongly correlated with training-related changes in brain activity in prefrontal and left lateral temporal regions associated with semantic processing and self-initiated verbal encoding strategy use in young adults. These neuroimaging results demonstrate that semantic encoding strategy training can alter older adults' brain activity patterns during intentional encoding and suggest that young and older adults may use the same network of brain regions to support self-initiated use of verbal encoding strategies.
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