Veronica Pucci

Ritratto Veronica Pucci

Neuroscience, Technology, and Society, XXXVI series
Grant sponsor

Università di Padova

Sara Mondini
Ombretta Gaggi

Project description
To date, no effective pharmacological treatments are available for preventing cognitive decline; therefore, greater importance is given to non-pharmacological ones, such as Physical Activity (PA) training. Emerging evidence suggests that PA can improve cognition in healthy people, reduce the incidence of dementia, and improve health among people with dementia. Moreover, we found that PA carried out throughout lifespan may also impact later-life cognition. Thus, we hypothesized a Motor Reserve (MR), a flexible and dynamic construct cumulative over the years, compensating for the age-related cognitive loss. Furthermore, PA is associated with better Cardiorespiratory Fitness (CRF, i.e., the body's ability to use oxygen) and, possibly, better cognitive functioning. In the first phase, the plan is to investigate (1) whether a higher level of MR results in better CRF and (2) whether a higher level of both CRF and MR is the best condition to have better Cognitive Functioning. In the second phase, the participants will participate in aerobic PA training to improve CRF with an exercise intensity prescription tailored to each participant. For the study's feasibility, each subject's training may be carried out autonomously without a trainer's direct intervention. TDCS will also be used in this phase to investigate its combined effect with PA training on cognition. The aim is to indirectly modulate physical performance, increasing the excitability of this M1, resulting in a sustained neural drive for the motor neurons, a delay in decreasing the neural drive to the active muscles, and improved physical performance. After the training, CRF measures and overall cognitive functioning will be collected to investigate any change and identify the best cognitive improvement condition. Investigating the mixed effect of MR, CRF, and tDCS on cognitive performance can provide new guidelines for developing preventive protocols for cognitive decline and rehabilitation ones for people with existing dementi.