Positive effects of computer-based cognitive training in adults with mild cognitive impairment

Neuropsychologia. 2012 Jul;50(8):1871-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.04.012. Epub 2012 Apr 21.


Considering the high risk for individuals with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (A-MCI) to progress towards Alzheimer's disease (AD), we investigated the efficacy of a non-pharmacological intervention, that is, cognitive training that could reduce cognitive difficulties and delay the cognitive decline. For this, we evaluated the efficacy of a 12-week computer-based memory-attention training program based on recognition in subjects with A-MCI and compared their performances with those of A-MCI controls trained in cognitively stimulating activities. The effect of training was assessed by comparing outcome measures in pre- and post-tests 15 days before and after training. To evaluate the duration of training benefits, a follow-up test session was performed 6 months after memory and attention training or cognitively stimulating activities. Outcome measures showed that the trained group, compared to control group, improved episodic recall and recognition. Six months after training, scores remained at the level of the post-test. Since the training program was exclusively based on recognition, our results showed a generalization from recognition to recall processes, which are memory components that represent part of the core cognitive impairments in individuals at risk of converting to AD. Thus, cognitive training based on recognition holds promise as a preventive therapeutic method and could be proposed as a non-pharmacological early-intervention strategy. Future investigations need to focus on methodological constraints and delineating possible neuroplastic mechanisms of action.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control
  • Attention
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology*