Currently, 24.7% of the population in Europe is older than 60 years of age, and is expected to increase to 34.5% in 2050. Ageing comes with difficulties and is accompanied by cognitive decline, such as in remembering words. Also, the wiring of the brain (i.e. brain networks) changes with older age, resulting in less smooth information processing between different brain areas. These changes in the brain are related to cognitive difficulties at old age. Possibly, certain lifetime experiences (e.g. education) and positive lifestyles, such as engaging in leisure activities,  reduce the negative consequences of age on cognition and brain networks. This theory is called “Cognitive Reserve”. Investigating cognitive decline, brain networks, and lifestyle in healthy older adults can inform us about early neuropsychological markers of dementia and why some elders never develop dementia while others do. The aim of this project to investigate the relationship between age and word-finding difficulties (i.e. difficulties retrieving words from memory), age-related changes in brain networks, and the influence of lifestyle factors  (physical exercise, mentally stimulating activities, and social/leisure activities) on word-finding and brain networks. To measure brain networks, we using electroencephalography (EEG), during which our participants sit still with their eyes closed for a few minutes. You can read more about this technique by clicking here.

Currently, we are only running online studies and the use of already existing databases. In the online version of this study, we aim to explore the relationship between word-finding difficulties and lifestyle factors. We investigate word-finding difficulties through tasks where participants have to name pictures and generate as many words belonging to a certain category (e.g. the category “animals). Lifestyle is investigated through questionnaires. Covid-19 has a large impact on people’s lives, including changes in lifestyle. Therefore, we also aim to explore the changes people made in their lifestyles and how this impacts cognition across a wide range of ages.

Current opportunities to take part in Getting the Brain Into Gear research:

  • Getting the Brain into Gear – an online study [finished]