Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


Cognitive reserve refers to the cerebral plasticity perspective in which premorbid buffer factors, explained as enriching life experiences, protect against the negative outcomes of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases (Stern, 2009; Harrison et al., 2015). Little research has been done to understand cognitive reserve in older AI adults, despite the fact that American Indians (AIs) experience a higher incidence of cerebrovascular disease than other racial and ethnic groups in the US, which increases risk for cognitive deficits and dementia (Zhang, et al., 2007; Ayala, Greenlund, Croft, et al., 2001; Harwell, et al., 2005). Interactive Metronome (IM) therapy is a behavioral therapy that uses a rhythm and timing paradigm to improve cognitive and motor skills, thereby increasing health-related quality of life. This was a secondary analysis aimed at examining the degree to which post-intervention cognitive outcomes (executive functioning, memory, and language) are moderated by cognitive reserve (CR) in older AIs with mild cognitive impairment. Participants were enrolled in the Rhythm and Timing study, randomized to receive 12 sessions of either IM therapy or the control condition (light stretching) across 10 weeks. Data were collected for up to three timepoints including baseline (n=169), 2 weeks after the treatment period ended (n=126, 75%), and 4 months after the treatment period ended (n=100, 59%). Results showed that language was significantly associated with baseline CR and CR significantly attenuated cognitive training for language at four month follow-up, but these effects were not shown for executive functioning and memory. Given mixed findings, methodological considerations are discussed, as well as implications and future directions for research.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Steve Verney, PhD

Second Committee Member

Lonnie Nelson, PhD

Third Committee Member

Benjamin Clark, PhD




cognitive reserve, older adulthood, interactive metronome therapy, American Indians

Document Type


Available for download on Friday, August 01, 2025

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Psychology Commons