Cognitive and physical training for the elderly: evaluating outcome efficacy by means of neurophysiological synchronization

Int J Psychophysiol. 2014 Jul;93(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2014.01.007. Epub 2014 Jan 25.


Recent neuroscientific research has demonstrated that both healthy and pathological aging induces alterations in the co-operative capacity of neuronal populations in the brain. Both compensatory and neurodegenerative mechanisms contribute to neurophysiological synchronization patterns, which provide a valuable marker for age-related cognitive decline. In this study, we propose that neuroplasticity-based training may facilitate coherent interaction of distant brain regions and consequently enhance cognitive performance in elderly people. If this is true, this would make neurophysiological synchronization a valid outcome measure to assess the efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions to prevent or delay age-related cognitive decline. The present study aims at providing an objective, synchronization-based tool to assess cognitive and/or physical interventions, adopting the notion of Relative Wavelet Entropy. This mathematical model employs a robust and parameter-free synchronization metric. By using data mining techniques, a distance value was computed for all participants so as to quantify the proximity of their individual profile to the mean group synchronization increase. In support of our hypothesis, results showed a significant increase in synchronization, for four electrode pairs, in the intervention group as compared to the active control group. It is concluded that the novel introduction of neurophysiological synchronization features could be used as a valid and reliable outcome measure; while the distance-based analysis could provide a reliable means of evaluating individual benefits.

Keywords: Age-related intervention; Cognitive & physical training; Dementia; Electroencephalography; Relative wavelet entropy; Resting-state synchronization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cortical Synchronization / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wavelet Analysis