Cognitive Training and Noninvasive Brain Stimulation for Cognition in Parkinson's Disease: A Meta-analysis

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2017 Jul;31(7):597-608. doi: 10.1177/1545968317712468. Epub 2017 Jun 5.


Background: Many people with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience cognitive decline. It is not known whether cognitive training or noninvasive brain stimulation are effective at alleviating cognitive deficits in PD.

Objective: To examine cognitive training and non-invasive brain stimulation interventions for cognition in PD.

Methods: An extensive search was conducted of published and unpublished studies in online databases. Studies were selected if they were controlled trials examining standard (not individualized) or tailored (individualized) cognitive training, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), or transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in PD, with outcomes measured by standardized neuropsychological tests.

Results: Fourteen controlled trials met inclusion criteria. For executive function, the pooled effect size (Hedges' g) for cognitive training (standard and tailored combined) was small ( g = 0.42) but statistically significant (95% CI 0.15-0.68). The pooled effect for standard cognitive training (alone) was medium ( g = 0.51) and significant (95% CI 0.16-0.85). For attention/working memory, small pooled effect sizes were found when combining standard and tailored cognitive training ( g = 0.23; 95% CI 0.02-0.44) and for standard cognitive training alone ( g = 0.29; 95% CI 0.04-0.53), both significant. For memory, small but significant pooled effect sizes were also found when combining standard and tailored cognitive training and for standard cognitive training alone.

Conclusions: The results suggest that standard and tailored cognitive training may improve executive function, attention/working memory, and memory in PD. Future studies must adopt randomized controlled trial designs to explore the therapeutic potential of these interventions.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; attention/working memory; executive function; memory; mild cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / parasitology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*