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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Cognitive development in ageing is a multidimensional and multidirectional phenomenon characterized by age-related changes in the plasticity of different dimensions of cognitive functions. Gains, stability, and losses can be observed across abilities and across persons as they age. Although with the closeness to death losses are predominant, several cognitive abilities on average show stability and even increases well into extreme old age. Importantly, the individually differing uses of the ability to learn, and cognitive as well as neural plasticity can explain the heterogeneity of cognitive ageing. Based on different approaches to cognitive ageing, different training methods have been introduced over the past years focusing on cognitive processes, primary mental abilities, higher-order cognitive constructs, and global cognition involving multiple cognitive domains. They demonstrate the possibilities to improve cognitive functioning and to extend the phase of autonomous living for several years. A more recent and promising concept is the integration of the existing approaches within a functional approach to cognitive development framing elementary cognitive ability use within the context of their functional value for independent living and autonomy. Due to its applicability to resource orchestration at all levels of functioning it has implications for the understanding of everyday cognitive performances and clinical practice.

Keywords: cognitive development, cognitive ageing, neural plasticity, cognitive training

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