Adaptive working memory strategy training in early Alzheimer's disease: randomised controlled trial

Br J Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;210(1):61-66. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.182048. Epub 2016 Oct 6.


Background: Interventions that improve cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease are urgently required.

Aims: To assess whether a novel cognitive training paradigm based on 'chunking' improves working memory and general cognitive function, and is associated with reorganisation of functional activity in prefrontal and parietal cortices (trial registration: ISRCTN43007027).

Method: Thirty patients with mild Alzheimer's disease were randomly allocated to receive 18 sessions of 30 min of either adaptive chunking training or an active control intervention over approximately 8 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were also conducted.

Results: Adaptive chunking training led to significant improvements in verbal working memory and untrained clinical measures of general cognitive function. Further, fMRI revealed a bilateral reduction in task-related lateral prefrontal and parietal cortex activation in the training group compared with controls.

Conclusions: Chunking-based cognitive training is a simple and potentially scalable intervention to improve cognitive function in early Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Remediation / methods*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology*

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN43007027