October 26, 2023
Robert Herpen, MA

Key takeaways:

  • The study examined the impact of computerized cognitive training on those with MCI and healthy controls.
  • Those with MCI showed more rapid improvement, greater gains and less dropout with combined training.

Individuals with mild cognitive impairment performed faster on functional skills assessments and logged fewer dropouts when undergoing concurrent burst cognitive training, according to a poster from CTAD.

“Pharmacological therapies have historically been developed for the treatment of cognitive impairment in the [Alzheimer’s disease] spectrum, including [mild cognitive impairment],” Philip D. Harvey, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told Healio in an email. “Non-pharmacological therapies, such as Computerized Cognitive Training, have gained popularity in recent years due to their potential to impact cognitive performance in older people with MCI and normal cognition.”

Prior research conducted by Harvey and colleagues found that computerized cognitive training augments skills training on both trained skills and cognitive performance, yet dropout rates were higher for individuals with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers sought to examine if dropout rates could be bypassed through specialized burst cognitive training in those patients with MCI as well as healthy participants aged older than 60 years.

Their study Involved delivering remote concurrent training on cloud-connected devices to those with MCI (n = 88) and healthy controls (n = 71) for 3 weeks, training for 2 hours per week on Brain HQ speed training and then for 9 weeks with Functional Skills Assessment & Training (FUNSAT), a series of six tasks revolving around banking, medication management and telephone usage. All healthy controls were subject to the skills test only, while those with MCI were exposed equally to the boost training and skills test.

The primary outcomes for the study were training gains in total time to finish given testing between baseline assessment and final training sessions, with follow-up analysis of gains per each training session for the MCI and control groups.

According to results, both the MCI and healthy control cohorts improved their respective times on all six FUNSAT tasks.

Participants with MCI demonstrated more rapid improvement with combined training, with greater gains per training session in fewer total training sessions (6.7 seconds per task vs. 10.7 seconds per task for skills alone).

Data further showed that dropout rate was significantly lower than in previous studies due to concurrent skills training, the researchers wrote.

“This is the first study showing improved performance of real-world skills with this type of training program,” Harvey told Healio. “Reducing dropout has critical clinical implications.”