Objectives: Useful Field of View training (UFOVt) is an adaptive computerized cognitive intervention that improves visual attention and transfers to maintained health and everyday functioning in older adults. Although its efficacy is well established, the neural mechanisms underlying this intervention are unknown. This pilot study used functional MRI (fMRI) to explore neural changes following UFOVt.
Method: Task-driven and resting-state fMRI were used to examine changes in brain activity and connectivity in healthy older adults randomized to 10 hr of UFOVt (n = 13), 10 hr of cognitively stimulating activities (CSA; n = 11), or a no-contact control (NC; n = 10).
Results: UFOVt resulted in reduced task-driven activity in the majority of regions of interest (ROIs) associated with task performance, CSA resulted in reduced activity in one ROI, and there were no changes within the NC group. Relative to NC, UFOVt reduced activity in ROIs involved in effortful information processing. There were no other significant between-group task-based differences. Resting-state functional connectivity between ROIs involved in executive function and visual attention was strengthened following UFOVt compared with CSA and NC.
Discussion: UFOVt enhances connections needed for visual attention. Together with prior work, this study provides evidence that improvement of the brain's visual attention efficiency is one mechanism underlying UFOVt.
Keywords: Cognitive intervention; Cognitive training; Cognitively stimulating activities; Neural plasticity; Speed of processing training.
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