Cognitive Rescue in Aging Through Prior Training


“Prior training shows profound benefits in cognitive aging [...]”

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BUFFALO, NY- July 19, 2023 – A new research paper was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as "Aging (Albany NY)" and "Aging-US" by Web of Science) Volume 15, Issue 13, entitled, “Cognitive rescue in aging through prior training in rats.”

Cognitive decline in spatial memory is seen in aging. Understanding affected processes in aging is vital for developing methods to improve wellbeing. Daily memory persistence can be influenced by events around the time of learning or by prior experiences in early life. 

Fading memories in young can last longer if a novel event is introduced around encoding, a process called behavioral tagging. In this new study based on this principle, researchers Alexandra Gros and Szu-Han Wang from The University of Edinburgh asked what processes are affected in aging and if prior training can rescue them. 

“Here we asked if cognitive training in young and mid-life would improve cognitive aging and which elements of the cognitive processes at old age are preferentially protected through such training.”

Two groups of aged rats received training in an appetitive delayed matching-to-place task. One of the groups additionally received prior training of the same task in young and in mid-life, constituting a longitudinal study. The results showed long-term memory decline in late aging without prior training. This would reflect affected encoding and consolidation. 

On the other hand, short-term memory was preserved and novelty at memory reactivation and reconsolidation enabled memory maintenance in aging. Prior training improved cognition by facilitating task performance, strengthening short-term and intermediate memory, and enabling encoding-boosted long-term memory. Learning ability, short-term memories, motor and motivation functions remained intact in older age, suggesting a phase when memory-associated processes are compromised before apparent navigation or learning deficits in advanced aging. Overall, the study's findings suggest a selective impairment in encoding for long-term memory formation in early aging and an additional impairment in consolidation in later aging.

“Prior training shows profound benefits in cognitive aging and it can provide a translatable model to simulate human cognition which is built upon lifelong experiences.”

Read the full paper: DOI: 

Corresponding Author: Szu-Han Wang

Corresponding Email:  

Keywords: memory consolidation, reconsolidation, memory modulation, lifelong training, cognitive stimulation

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About Aging-US:

Launched in 2009, Aging (Aging-US) publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

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