Cognitive training may be beneficial for individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, the effects are modest with little evidence of carryover. Prior studies included limited hours and low intensity of training. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility and efficacy of many hours of intensive cognitive training with adults in the early stages of AD. Twenty-one adults with very mild or mild AD participated in cognitive training for 10 days over 2 weeks with 4 to 5 hours of training each day. Participants significantly improved in practiced computer-based tasks including those involving working memory, sustained attention, and switching attention. Outcome measures that improved included the Mini-Mental State Examination, letter fluency, and 3 of 5 Trail-Making Tests. Gains in outcome measures were maintained at 2- and 4-month follow-up. Adults in early-stage AD can participate in intensive cognitive training and make modest gains in both practiced and unpracticed cognitive tasks.
Keywords: brain plasticity; cognitive rehabilitation; cognitive training; dementia; memory and attention training.