Anete Šneidere-Šustiņa, Kristīne Šneidere, Nicholas G. Dowell, Ainārs Stepens


With the increasing worldwide population, an ongoing escalation in mild cognitive impairment and dementia is predicted. Motor reserve – the cumulative physical activity experience gained throughout  life, as well as cognitive reserve – the brain’s ability to overcome a pathology, such as neurodegenerative disorders, - has been identified as protective factors in cognitive decline. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between cognitive reserve, motor reserve, and brain volumetry in older adults. 44 older adults (M = 70, SD = 5.18, 77.3% female) with no self-reported significant neurological, ongoing oncological etc. disorders that might limit their participation in the study were involved in the study. All participants underwent a thorough life-style and psychological assessment, as well as structural brain MRI analysis. Overall, our study indicated the significance of a combination of lifestyle factors in predicting thalamic volume. The results of this study indicate that life-long participation in physical, intellectual, and social activities could be beneficial for preserving the volume of thalamus, which is among the first to decline due to aging.


cognitive reserve, motor reserve, thalamus

Full Text:



Alosco, M. L., Brickman, A. M., Spitznagel, M. B., Sweet, L. H., Josephson, R., Griffith, E.Y., et al. (2015). Daily Physical Activity Is Associated with Subcortical Brain Volume and Cognition in Heart Failure. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 21(10), 851–860. DOI:

Bartrés-Faz, D., & Arenaza-Urquijo, E. M. (2011). Structural and functional imaging correlates of cognitive and brain reserve hypotheses in healthy and pathological aging. Brain topography, 24(3-4), 340–357. DOI:

Bherer, L., Erickson, K. I., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2013). A review of the effects of physical activity and exercise on cognitive and brain functions in older adults. Journal of aging research, 2013, 657508. DOI:

Biazus-Sehn, L.F., Schuch, F.B., Firth, J., Stigger, F.S. (2020). Effects of physical exercise on cognitive function of older adults with mild cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2020 Jul-Aug;89:104048. DOI: 10.1016/j.archger.2020.104048.

Boots, E. A., Schultz, S. A., Oh, J. M., Larson, J., Edwards, D., Cook, D., et al. (2015). Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with brain structure, cognition, and mood in a middle-aged cohort at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Brain imaging and behavior, 9(3), 639–649. DOI:

Caspersen, C. J., Powell, K. E., & Christenson, G. M. (1985). Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974), 100(2), 126–131.

Colcombe, S. J., Erickson, K. I., Scalf, P. E., Kim, J. S., Prakash, R., McAuley, et al. (2006). Aerobic exercise training increases brain volume in aging humans. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 61(11), 1166–1170. DOI:

Day, K., & Cohen, U. (2000). The Role of Culture in Designing Environments for People with Dementia. Environment and Behavior, 32(3), 361–399. DOI:

Douka, S., Zilidou, V. I., Lilou, O., & Manou, V. (2019). Traditional dance improves the physical fitness and well-being of the elderly. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 11(APR). DOI:

Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, et al. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(7), 3017–3022. DOI:

Fama, R., & Sullivan, E. V. (2015). Thalamic structures and associated cognitive functions: Relations with age and aging. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 54, 29-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.03.008

Fancourt, D., & Steptoe, A. (2018). Cultural engagement predicts changes in cognitive function in older adults over a 10 year period: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 10226.

Frith, E., & Loprinzi, P. D. (2018). Physical activity is associated with higher cognitive function among adults at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Complementary therapies in medicine, 36, 46–49. DOI:

Guzmán-Vélez, E., & Tranel, D. (2015). Does bilingualism contribute to cognitive reserve? Cognitive and neural perspectives. Neuropsychology, 29(1), 139–150. DOI:

Hughes, E. J., Bond, J., Svrckova, P., Makropoulos, A., Ball, G., Sharp, D. J., et al. (2012). Regional changes in thalamic shape and volume with increasing age. Neuroimage, 63(3), 1134-1142. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.07.043

Hwang, K., Bertolero, M. A., Liu, W. B., & D'esposito, M. (2017). The human thalamus is an integrative hub for functional brain networks. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(23), 5594-5607. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0067-17.2017

Nucci, M., Mapelli, D., & Mondini, S. (2012). Cognitive Reserve Index questionnaire (CRIq): a new instrument for measuring cognitive reserve. Aging clinical and experimental research, 24(3), 218–226. DOI:

O'Brien, L. M., Ziegler, D. A., Deutsch, C. K., Frazier, J. A., Herbert, M. R., & Locascio, J. J. (2011). Statistical adjustments for brain size in volumetric neuroimaging studies: some practical implications in methods. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 193(2), 113-122. DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2011.01.007

Prakash, R. S., Snook, E. M., Motl, R. W., & Kramer, A. F. (2010). Aerobic fitness is associated with gray matter volume and white matter integrity in multiple sclerosis. Brain research, 1341, 41–51. DOI:

Pudule I., Villeruša A., Grīnberga D., Velika B., Tilgale N., Dzērve V., et al. (2010). Health Behaviour among Latvian Adult Population, 2008. Pieejams:

Rocca, M. A., Riccitelli, G. C., Meani, A., Pagani, E., Del Sette, P., Martinelli, V., et al. (2019). Cognitive reserve, cognition, and regional brain damage in MS: A 2 -year longitudinal study. Multiple sclerosis (Houndmills, Basingstoke, England), 25(3), 372–381. DOI:

Šneidere, K., Alruwais, N., Dowell, N. G., Arnis, V., Harlamova, J., Kupčs, K., et al. (2019). Differences in Long- and Short-Term Memory Performance and Brain Matter Integrity in Seniors With Different Physical Activity Experience, Proceedings of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Section B. Natural, Exact, and Applied Sciences., 73(2), 158-163. DOI:

Speer, M. E., & Soldan, A. (2015). Cognitive reserve modulates ERPs associated with verbal working memory in healthy younger and older adults. Neurobiology of Aging, 36(3), 1424–1434. DOI:

Spirduso, W. W. (1975). Reaction and movement time as a function of age and physical activity level. Journal of gerontology, 30(4), 435-440. DOI:

Stern, Y., Arenaza-Urquijo, E. M., Bartrés-Faz, D., Belleville, S., Cantilon, M., Chetelat, G., et al. (2018). Whitepaper: Defining and investigating cognitive reserve, brain reserve, and brain maintenance. Alzheimer’s and Dementia, 1–7. DOI:

World Alzheimer Report. (2015). The Global Impact of Dementia. Retrieved from:

World Health Organization. (2015). World report on ageing and health. Retrieved from:

Young, J. C., Dowell, N. G., Watt, P. W., Tabet, N., & Rusted, J. M. (2016). Long-Term High-Effort Endurance Exercise in Older Adults: Diminishing Returns for Cognitive and Brain Aging. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 24(4), 659–675. DOI:



  • There are currently no refbacks.