Cognitive intervention in amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: a systematic review

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Apr;36(4):1163-78. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.01.007. Epub 2012 Feb 1.


Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) represents a transitional state between normal aging and early dementia and is commonly associated with memory impairment (amnestic or A-MCI). Several studies have investigated therapeutic approaches to A-MCI, including cholinestherase inhibitors (I-ChEs), although this practice is still controversial. Thus, there is a current need to determine the effects of cognitive interventions either in combination with I-ChEs or alone. To assess the efficacy of such treatments, neuropsychological instruments and self-evaluated scoring of memory, mood, daily life activities and quality of life are employed. Recently, some studies have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to understand the neurobiological effects of these interventions. The aim of this systematic review is to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive interventions on the enhancement of learning abilities as well as their impacts on cognitive measurements of mood, everyday functioning and functional neuroimaging. This review also focused on the methodological aspects of such studies and attempted to introduce new perspectives on cognitive interventions in this population. The authors concluded that a-MCI patients are capable to learn new information and memory strategies. Although findings in standardized neuropsychological tests are limited, non-standardized cognitive measures and subjective measures show significant changes. Furthermore, fMRI reveals changes in the patterns of brain activation and increase of connectivity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / psychology*
  • Amnesia / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Cognitive Reserve / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuronal Plasticity