Research Fellows Directory
Dr Marinella Cappelletti
Goldsmiths College, University of London
I spent last year investigating the extent to which the human ageing brain can maintain numerical and quantity-based skills, for instance the ability to detect the object larger in size or the event lasting longer. Secondly, I explored whether these skills can be further improved in elderly people using cognitive training. I focused my research on healthy aging as well as on young participants and aimed to address the following questions: (1) What brain regions maintain numerical and quantity-based skills in the young and normally aging brain? (2) Are elderly using some brain regions ‘more’ than young to maintain numerical performance? (3) Can numerical abilities be improved with training in elderly as well as in young?
Using a combination of techniques, my research showed that maintaining numerical abilities as well as the capacity to judge temporal and spatial relations are supported by similar brain regions in healthy aging and young participants. Moreover, in elderly participants these numerical and quantity skills can be even improved following behavioural training combined to brain stimulation. These results are relevant because they (1) demonstrate the resilience of numerical skills in the aging brain and their flexibility; (2) inform on brain plasticity, i.e. how the human brain can compensate normal aging and be boosted to further improve its capability.