Cognitive Reserve and the Aging Brain

Tucker, Adrienne M.; Stern, Yaakov

Cognitive reserve, which is often estimated with education and IQ, is the ability to make flexible and efficient use of available brain reserve during tasks. It has been found to be protective against the cognitive outcomes of brain injury. • Cognitive reserve is reflected in neural reserve and neural compensation. • Neural reserve allows healthy individuals more efficient processing (processing which requires less neural activity) as well as higher processing capacity (the ability to recruit more neural activity when task demands are high). • Neural compensation is the activation of alternate brain regions to compensate for deficiencies in individuals with brain impairments. • Young adults with high cognitive reserve display greater neural efficiency. This may be a result of better or more efficient use of strategies. • Neural markers for cognitive reserve may differ between younger and older adults. This may be an indication of compensatory reorganization during aging. • Activation patterns related to cognitive reserve are reversed between healthy older adults and individuals with Alzheimer’s. • Individuals with high cognitive reserve may present with pathology without functional deficits. Thus, accounting for cognitive reserve in addition to the underlying pathology may aid clinical judgment.



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Geriatric Neurology

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February 11, 2022

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