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Cognitive training interventions beneficial against depression

29 May 2020

Cognitive training interventions help ameliorate depression symptoms in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia, according to the results of a meta-analysis.

Researchers searched multiple online databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the effect of cognitive training interventions vs a control condition on depression rating scale score in MCI or dementia patients aged >60 years in any types of settings such as community and nursing home.

Cognitive training interventions included cognitive stimulation, cognitive training, memory training, cognitive rehabilitation, and computerized cognitive training. On the other hand, control conditions involved usual care, social and recreational activity, and alternative psychosocial intervention.

The meta-analysis included 36 RCTs with a total population of 2,551 individuals (mean age range, 63.0–87.5 years), with the intervention period ranging from 2 to 52 weeks. Of the studies, 13 enrolled participants with MCI, 20 recruited patients with mild-to-moderate dementia, and four involved those with any level of dementia. The studies were conducted in Europe (n=15), Asia (n=13), North America (n=5), South American (n=2), and Australia (n=1).

The mean score on Geriatric Depression Scales (GDS-15) at baseline was 4.83. Cognitive training interventions produced a significant decrease in depression rating scale score compared with control conditions (mean difference, –1.30, 95 percent confidence interval, –2.14 to –0.47).

Subgroup analyses revealed that the effect size of computerized cognitive training and cognitive stimulation therapy was medium-to-large and statistically significant.

Cognitive training interventions were relatively safe, with no reports of any adverse events.

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