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To lay out the argument that exercise impacts neurobiological targets common to both mood and cognitive functioning, and thus more research should be conducted on its use as an alternative or adjunctive treatment for cognitive impairment in late-life depression (LLD).
This narrative review summarizes the literature on cognitive impairment in LLD, describes the structural and functional brain changes and neurochemical changes that are linked to both cognitive impairment and mood disruption, and explains how exercise targets these same neurobiological changes and can thus provide an alternative or adjunctive treatment for cognitive impairment in LLD.
Cognitive impairment is common in LLD and predicts recurrence of depression, poor response to antidepressant treatment, and overall disability. Traditional depression treatment with medication, psychotherapy, or both, is not effective in fully reversing cognitive impairment for most depressed older adults. Physical exercise is an ideal treatment candidate based on evidence that it 1) is an effective treatment for depression, 2) enhances cognitive functioning in normal aging and in other patient populations, and 3) targets many of the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie mood and cognitive functioning. Results of the limited existing clinical trials of exercise for cognitive impairment in depression are mixed but overall support this contention.
Although limited, existing evidence suggests exercise may be a viable alternative or adjunctive treatment to address cognitive impairment in LLD, and thus more research in this area is warranted. Moving forward, additional research is needed in large, diverse samples to translate the growing research findings into clinical practice.
Objectives: As the number of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) surviving congenital heart disease (CHD) grows, studies of long-term outcomes are needed. CHD research documents poor executive function (EF) and cerebellum (CB) abnormalities in children. We examined whether AYAs with CHD exhibit reduced EF and CB volumes. We hypothesized a double dissociation such that the posterior CB is related to EF while the anterior CB is related to motor function. We also investigated whether the CB contributes to EF above and beyond processing speed. Methods: Twenty-two AYAs with CHD and 22 matched healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging and assessment of EF, processing speed, and motor function. Volumetric data were calculated using a cerebellar atlas (SUIT) developed for SPM. Group differences were compared with t tests, relationships were tested with Pearson’s correlations and Fisher’s r to z transformation, and hierarchical regression was used to test the CB’s unique contributions to EF. Results: CHD patients had reduced CB total, lobular, and white matter volume (d=.52–.99) and poorer EF (d=.79–1.01) compared to controls. Significant correlations between the posterior CB and EF (r=.29–.48) were identified but there were no relationships between the anterior CB and motor function nor EF. The posterior CB predicted EF above and beyond processing speed (ps<.001). Conclusions: This study identified a relationship between the posterior CB and EF, which appears to be particularly important for inhibitory processes and abstract reasoning. The unique CB contribution to EF above and beyond processing speed alone warrants further study. (JINS, 2018, 24, 939–948)
Objectives: Both depression and apathy, alone and in combination, have been shown to negatively affect cognition in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, the influence of specific symptom dimensions of depression and apathy on cognition is not well understood. The current study investigated the relationship between symptom dimensions of depression and apathy, based on factors identified in Kirsch-Darrow et al. (2011), and memory and executive function in PD. Methods: A sample of 138 non-demented individuals with PD (mean age=64.51±7.43 years) underwent neuropsychological testing and completed the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition, and Apathy Scale. Separate hierarchical regression models examined the relationship between symptom dimensions of depression and apathy (“pure” depressive symptoms, “pure” apathy, loss of interest/pleasure [anhedonia], and somatic symptoms) and three cognitive domain composites: immediate verbal memory, delayed verbal memory, and executive function. Results: After adjusting for general cognitive status and the influence of the other symptom dimensions, “pure” depressive symptoms were negatively associated with the delayed verbal memory composite (p<.034) and somatic symptoms were positively associated with the executive function composite (p<.026). No symptom dimensions were significantly related to the immediate verbal memory composite. Conclusions: Findings suggest that specific mood symptoms are associated with delayed verbal memory and executive function performance in non-demented patients with PD. Further research is needed to better understand possible mechanisms through which specific symptom dimensions of depression and apathy are associated with cognition in PD. (JINS, 2018, 24, 269–282)
Previous research has shown that reading ability is a stronger predictor of cognitive functioning than years of education, particularly for African Americans. The current study was designed to determine whether the relative influence of literacy and education on cognitive abilities varies as a function of race or socioeconomic status (SES). We examined the unique influence of education and reading scores on a range of cognitive tests in low- and higher-SES African Americans and Whites. Literacy significantly predicted scores on all but one cognitive measure in both African American groups and low-SES Whites, while education was not significantly associated with any cognitive measure. In contrast, both education and reading scores predicted performance on many cognitive measures in higher-SES Whites. These findings provide further evidence that reading ability better predicts cognitive functioning than years of education and suggest that disadvantages associated with racial minority status and low SES affect the relative influence of literacy and years of education on cognition. (JINS, 2009, 15, 580–589.)
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