Memory enhancement by multidomain group cognitive training in patients with Parkinson's disease and mild cognitive impairment: long-term effects of a multicenter randomized controlled trial

J Neurol. 2021 Apr 27. doi: 10.1007/s00415-021-10568-9. Online ahead of print.


Background: Meta-analyses indicate positive effects of cognitive training (CT) in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), however, most previous studies had small sample sizes and did not evaluate long-term follow-up. Therefore, a multicenter randomized controlled, single-blinded trial (Train-ParC study) was conducted to examine CT effects in PD patients with mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI). Immediately after CT, an enhancement of executive functions was demonstrated. Here, we present the long-term results 6 and 12 months after CT.

Methods: At baseline, 64 PD-MCI patients were randomized to a multidomain CT group (n = 33) or to a low-intensity physical activity training control group (PT) (n = 31). Both interventions included 90 min training sessions twice a week for 6 weeks. 54 patients completed the 6 months (CT: n = 28, PT: n = 26) and 49 patients the 12 months follow-up assessment (CT: n = 25, PT: n = 24). Primary study outcomes were memory and executive functioning composite scores. Mixed repeated measures ANOVAs, post-hoc t tests and multiple regression analyses were conducted.

Results: We found a significant time x group interaction effect for the memory composite score (p = 0.006, η2 = 0.214), but not for the executive composite score (p = 0.967, η2 = 0.002). Post-hoc t tests revealed significant verbal and nonverbal memory improvements from pre-intervention to 6 months, but not to 12 months follow-up assessment in the CT group. No significant predictors were found for predicting memory improvement after CT.

Conclusions: This study provides Class 1 evidence that multidomain CT enhances memory functioning in PD-MCI after 6 months but not after 12 months, whereas executive functioning did not change in the long-term.

Clinical trial registration: German Clinical Trials Register (ID: DRKS00010186), 21.3.2016 (The study registration is outlined as retrospective due to an administrative delay. The first patient was enrolled three months after the registration process was started. A formal confirmation of this process from the German Clinical Trials Register can be obtained from the authors.).

Keywords: Cognition; Cognitive training; Long-term effects; Mild cognitive impairment; Non-pharmacological intervention; Parkinson’s disease.