Computerized cognitive training improves cognitive function, brain connectivity
A computerized cognitive training regimen effectively improves global cognition and brain plasticity in patients with vascular cognitive impairment, a recent study has found.
Sixty patients were randomly assigned to receive either the cognitive training regimen (n=30; mean age, 63.9±7.9 years; 40.0 percent female) or to an active control group (n=30; mean age, 64.9±6.6 years; 26.7 percent female). Those assigned to the training underwent a computerized, multidomain and adaptive programme, which lasted for 7 weeks. Domains included problem solving, executive control, calculation, long-term and working memory, processing speed, perception, attention, reasoning, and calculation.
After 7 weeks, there was a significant improvement in Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) scores in patients who received cognitive training (change from baseline, 3.356; 95 percent CI, 1.467–5.244). No such effect was observed in the active control group (change from baseline, –0.085; –2.062 to 1.892; effect size, 0.637; 0.115–1.153).
This difference did not persist until the 6-month follow-up (training group: change from baseline, 2.224; 0.256–4.192; active control: change from baseline, 1.358; –0.899 to 3.614; effect size, 0.866; –0.361 to 0.653).
Notably, from baseline to the end of the study, researchers also observed a significant increase in the connectivity between the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and median prefrontal cortex. This was true for participants who received the cognitive training but not in those who were assigned to the active control.
The improvement in connectivity was likewise significantly and positively associated with changes in MoCA in the training (r, 0.463; p=0.017) but not in the active control (r, 0.08; p=0.68) group.