Results of a randomized placebo-controlled study of memory training for mildly impaired Alzheimer's disease patients

Appl Neuropsychol. 2003;10(4):215-23. doi: 10.1207/s15324826an1004_3.


The efficacy of a memory-training program to improve word-list recall and recognition was evaluated in 34 patients with probable Alzheimer's disease (AD). The patients, who were all taking donepezil throughout the 6-week intervention, were randomly assigned to a cognitive intervention group or a control group. The Control group received didactic presentations but no formal memory training. Patients were assessed on neuropsychological tests before the 6-week training program, immediately after the training, and 8 weeks after completion of the training. Caregivers, who were blind to group assignment, completed activities of daily living (ADLs) and everyday memory questionnaires at all three time-points. No significant main effects of group (training vs. control) or time were observed on any outcome measures, nor were any significant interactions found. In terms of "process" measures during the 6-week training program, the patients demonstrated modest improvement on recall and recognition of test material presented during the training sessions. These results suggest that although modest gains in learning and memory may be evident in AD patients who are taught specific strategies, the benefits do not generalize to other measures of neuropsychological functioning after a brief intervention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Placebos
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Placebos