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Study: Cognitive Training in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

We just came across a new sci­en­tif­ic study on the val­ue and lim­i­ta­tions of cog­ni­tive train­ing in Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (MCI), based on a pro­gram of cog­ni­tive exer­cis­es pro­vid­ed by Lumos Labs (devel­op­ers of lumosity.com).

Study: Com­put­erised Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Old­er Per­sons With Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment: A Pilot Study Using a Ran­domised Con­trolled Tri­al Design (Brain Impair­ment):

Abstract: The results of a pilot ran­domised con­trolled tri­al of com­put­erised cog­ni­tive train­ing in old­er adults with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment (MCI) are report­ed. Par­tic­i­pants (N = 25) were ran­domised into either the treat­ment or wait­list train­ing groups. Six­teen par­tic­i­pants com­plet­ed the 30-ses­sion com­put­erised cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram using exer­cis­es that tar­get a range of cog­ni­tive func­tions includ­ing atten­tion, pro­cess­ing speed, visu­al mem­o­ry and exec­u­tive func­tions. It was hypoth­e­sised that par­tic­i­pants would improve with prac­tice on the trained tasks, that the ben­e­fits of train­ing would gen­er­alise to non­trained neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal mea­sures, and that train­ing would result in improved per­cep­tions of mem­o­ry and mem­o­ry func­tion­ing when com­pared with wait­list con­trols. Results indi­cat­ed that par­tic­i­pants were able to improve their per­for­mance across a range of tasks with train­ing. There was some evi­dence of gen­er­al­i­sa­tion of train­ing to a mea­sure of visu­al sus­tained atten­tion. There were no sig­nif­i­cant effects of train­ing on self-report­ed every­day mem­o­ry func­tion­ing or mood. The results are dis­cussed along with sug­ges­tions for future research.

For per­spec­tive, here is an excel­lent review pub­lished in 2010: Exer­cis­ing the brain to avoid cog­ni­tive decline: exam­in­ing the evi­dence (Future Med­i­cine).

Over­all Sum­ma­ry: Demen­tias and relat­ed cog­ni­tive dis­or­ders of the brain are strong­ly age-asso­ci­at­ed and preva­lence is expect­ed to rise dra­mat­i­cal­ly with a rapid­ly aging pop­u­la­tion. As a result, there has been increas­ing atten­tion on the pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of cog­ni­tive decline asso­ci­at­ed with these con­di­tions. A num­ber of approach­es have been designed to main­tain and strength­en the cog­ni­tive capac­i­ty of the healthy, as well as the patho­log­i­cal­ly dam­aged brain. Evi­dence sug­gests that despite advanc­ing age, our brains, and thus our cog­ni­tive func­tions, retain the abil­i­ty to be main­tained and strength­ened through the bio­log­i­cal process of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty. With this oppor­tu­ni­ty, a new com­mer­cial field of ‘brain fit­ness’ has been launched to bring to the mar­ket train­ing exer­cis­es and games that main­tain and strength­en cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties in adult­hood. How­ev­er, the major­i­ty of brain fit­ness meth­ods and prod­ucts now mar­ket­ed and sold to con­sumers have scant sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence to sup­port their effec­tive­ness.

Sum­ma­ry of MCI sec­tion: In sum­ma­ry, in all three stud­ies that enlist­ed indi­vid­u­als with MCI into a cog­ni­tive train­ing inter­ven­tion, par­tic­i­pants ben­e­fit­ed from the treat­ment in some way, includ­ing improve­ments in near trans­fer tasks (e.g., recall of lists or face–name asso­ci­a­tions) to domains as far reach­ing as activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing and sub­jec­tive mea­sures of mem­o­ry, mood and over­all well-being. Although these stud­ies sug­gest enhance­ment effects, lon­gi­tu­di­nal stud­ies are required to deter­mine whether inter­ven­tions pre­vent or slow the pro­gres­sion to AD.

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  1. Sunny Lam says:

    Thanks for this time­ly arti­cle on using brain exer­cis­es to reduce over­all decline of the mind.

    There was a recent arti­cle about brain decline start­ing at age 45 (http://bit.ly/xMYkCK).

    It’s total­ly impor­tant to com­bine brain exer­cis­es with enhanced diet to max­i­mize effec­tive­ness of both (syn­er­gy).

    It would be inter­est­ing to see how much men­tal exer­cis­es boost the suc­cess rate per­cent­age of dif­fer­ent tasks — I have looked at var­i­ous research in the past.

    The amount seems to vary.

    What does the lat­est research sta­tis­tics indi­cate?

    Fair winds and light laugh­ter,
    Sun­ny Lam

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