Tutored seminar – Sylvie Belleville

May 22, 2018 – St Charles


After completing a master’s degree in clinical psychology at UQTR and a Ph.D. degree at McGill, Dr Belleville worked as a clinical neuropsychologist while pursuing post-doctoral training at Cote-Des-Neiges Hospital. She then benefited from FRSQ chercheur-boursier and chercheur-national awards. She now is full professor in Psychology at Université de Montreal and director of research at IUGM.


Cognitive reserve and brain resilience in older adults: related concepts, neural substrates and the role of late-life cognitive stimulation.

Cognitive reserve is a theoretical construct proposed to account for the fact that some individuals appear to be more resistant than others to the effect of brain diseases. It was proposed that genes and/or long life lifestyle (e.g. : education, hobbies, profession) can create inter-individual brain differences and that those brain differences can become neuroprotective when people get older. The concept of reserve has strong explanatory power and wideranging implications and has thus gained considerable importance over the last decade. However, advances are hampered by the lack of a clear neurobiological model that would explain how reserve is implemented in the brain. In this study, I will discuss some recent views regarding the concept of Cognitive reserve in relation to similar constructs including that of brain reserve and brain maintenance. I will then present some of the work that has attempted to identify the neural substrates of reserve by looking at the association between reserve proxies and functional brain activation patterns and at how those functional differences moderate the detrimental effect of brain aging or Alzheimer’s disease on cognition. Finally, I will argue that cognitive interventions provided later in life can be used to increase reserve and I will discuss how this might occur at the brain level.



-Belleville, S, Clement, F, Mellah, S, et al (2011) Training- related brain plasticity in persons at risk of AD. Brain. 1623.

-Belleville, S, Mellah, S, de Boysson, C, et al (2014) The pattern and loci of training-induced brain changes in healthy older adults are predicted by the nature of the intervention. PLoS One. e102710.

-Boller, B., Mellah, S., Ducharme-Laliberté, G., & Belleville, S. (2016). Relationships between years of education, regional grey matter volumes, and working-memory related brain activity in healthy older adults. Brain Imaging and Behavior. 11, 304-317 doi:10.1007/s11682-016-9621-7.

– Stern, Y., Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurolology.

2012; 11: 1006–12

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