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Positive affect disrupts neurodegeneration effects on cognitive training plasticity in older adults

Contact Information


positive affect experience, cognitive training, cognitive plasticity, default mode network, neurodegeneration, mild cognitive impairment


Cognitive training for older adults varies in efficacy, but it is unclear why some older adults benefit more than others. positive affect experience (PAE), referring to high positive valence and/or stable arousal states across everyday scenarios, and associated functional networks can protect plasticity mechanisms against Alzheimer’s disease neurodegeneration, which may contribute to training outcome variability. The objective of this study is to investigate whether PAE explains variability in cognitive training outcomes by disrupting the adverse effect of neurodegeneration on plasticity. The study’s design is a secondary analysis of a randomized control trial of cognitive training with concurrent real or sham brain stimulation (39 older adults with mild cognitive impairment; mean age, 71). Moderation analyses, with change in episodic memory or executive function as the outcome, PAE or baseline resting-state connectivity as the moderator and baseline neurodegeneration as the predictor are the methods used in the study. The result of the study is that PAE stability and baseline default mode network (DMN) connectivity disrupted the effect of neurodegeneration on plasticity in executive function but not episodic memory. The study concludes that PAE stability and degree of DMN integrity both explained cognitive training outcome variability, by reducing the adverse effect of neurodegeneration on cognitive plasticity. We highlight the need to account for PAE, brain aging factors and their interactions with plasticity in cognitive training.


Anthony, M., Turnbull, A., Tadin, D., & Lin, F. V. (2024). Positive affect disrupts neurodegeneration effects on cognitive training plasticity in older adults. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 19(1), nsae004.





Conent Area

Mia Anthony

EWB-Related Construct

(3) Positive affect

Study Design

Species or Study Population

(5) RCT

Sex (%Female)


Age (Mean, SD)

71.5, 6.96

Younger Controls?


Longitudinal Data?


Sample Size



4-week anodal tDCS intervention

Ethnicity (%white)

97.4% (non-Hispanic)

Inclusion Criteria


Exclusion Criteria

Participants with contraindications (e.g. MRI: pacemaker; tDCS: history of seizures, repetitive motor conditions, skin condition or sensitivity) were excluded

EWB Measures

(1) self Assessment Manikin (SAM)

Non-EWB Behavioral

(1) Rey’s Auditory Verbal Learning Task (RAVLT), (2) long-term percent retention (LTPR), (3) Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R)

Physiological Measures


Brain IMaging Modality

Brain IMaging Paradigm


Brain Region/Circuit

1. default mode network (DMN):
2. ventral attention network (VAN): Higher VAN FC was positively associated with degree of valence and arousal (i.e. higher mean values) and with valence stability (i.e. lower s.d. values).

Biological Measures

(1) T1, (4) resting fMRI

Other Neural Measures

Data Availability?


Data Avalability Details

Imaging pre-processing scripts are available at Behavioral data and analysis scripts are available at affect_cogtrain.

Diagnostic Measures

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