Cognitive Plasticity Induced by Different Types of Interventions in Old Workers

The world is aging rapidly due to increasing longevity and falling birth rates. This situation is pushing European countries to support later retirement and longer working life of its citizens. In this aging society, the prevalence of physical, cognitive and health problems increase especially among its older members.

In this situation, there is an urgent need to invest in research to find out the most effective ways to increase physical and cognitive health, well-being, and safety at work.

There are also large individual differences among middle-age and older adults, and same of them are capable to perform their jobs efficiently and continue their professional careers until a very old age. However, in view of the cognitive declines that occur with age in a subset of the old population, it is essential to find out effective ways to maintain cognitive functions like attention, memory, and processing speed that are vital for “sustainable work” in the European industries.

Fortunately, the older brain still retains the capacity to adapt to the different challenges of the physical, cognitive, and social environment. Even the very old brain exhibits some degree of plasticity and can adapt to environmental changes, modifying brain function and neural connectivity. Intervention studies targeting cognitive training with serious games, physical exercise, and social stimulation could inform us how to reverse the negative effects of aging. The studies using combine cognitive training and physical exercise performed simultaneously or successively show very promising results although with a low effect size. More studies are needed to research how to increase this effect