This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a multifactorial 'healthy brain ageing cognitive training program' for Parkinson's disease. Using a single-blinded waitlist control design, 50 participants with Parkinson's disease were recruited from the Brain & Mind Research Institute, Sydney, Australia. The intervention encompassed both psychoeducation and cognitive training; each component lasted 1-hour. The 2-hour sessions were delivered in a group format, twice-weekly over a 7-week period. Multifactorial psychoeducation was delivered by a range of health professionals. In addition to delivering cognitive strategies, it targeted depression, anxiety, sleep, vascular risk factors, diet, and exercise. Cognitive training was computer-based and was conducted by clinical neuropsychologists. The primary outcome was memory. Secondary outcomes included other aspects of cognition and knowledge pertaining to the psychoeducation material. Results demonstrated that cognitive training was associated with significant improvements in learning and memory corresponding to medium to large effect sizes. Treatment was also associated with medium effect size improvements in knowledge. Although the study was limited by the lack of randomized allocation to treatment and control groups, these findings suggest that a healthy brain ageing cognitive training program may be a viable tool to improve memory and/or slow cognitive decline in people with Parkinson's disease. It also appeared successful for increasing awareness of adaptive and/or compensatory cognitive strategies, as well as modifiable risk factors to optimize brain functioning.
Keywords: Parkinson's disease; cognitive training; memory; neuroplasticity.
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