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Title: Mechanisms of cognitive reserve : computational and experimental explorations
Author: Rendell, Nicholas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 0877
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Cognitive reserve is the name given to the latent variable that describes individual differences in the ability to offset cognitive decline in old age. This thesis attempts to provide mechanistic explanations for two major aspects of cognitive reserve. These are neural compensation and neural reserve. Furthermore, behavioural experiments carried out as part of this investigation have extended the knowledge of existing theories as to the age invariance of neural compensation and the relationship between language, other more traditional proxies of cognitive reserve, and executive control. The results of these studies carried out in this thesis have demonstrated a biologically viable mechanism for the monitoring of task demand with resultant control of interhemispheric communication as a method of compensation. Further, this aspect of neural compensation was not found in younger participants. The neural network model in this thesis demonstrated differences over age in the spacing of representations for bilingual and monolingual networks as well as demonstrating increased inhibition in the bilingual network as a result of a negative relationship between weights from the tags of each language to nodes in the hidden layer. Finally, regression analysis using data from two large scale behavioural experiments demonstrated a minimal influence of bilingual language use on performance in executive control tasks. The models in this thesis provide an insight into the mechanisms behind cognitive reserve whilst supporting empirical results. Further, the results from the neural network model allowed predictions to be made with regard to the performance of bilinguals in dual category retrieval tasks. The lack of a relationship between bilingualism and cognitive control is supported by emerging research in the area and suggests that the functionality underlying cognitive reserve may be better described by biological rather than cognitive processes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available