Objective: The neural mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of a computerized cognitive training (CCT) program for improving episodic memory in older persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) remain unclear. This study aimed to use both functional and structural brain changes to elucidate the treatment effects of CCT on enhancing episodic memory.
Design, setting, and participants: Single-blinded, multicenter randomized controlled trial on 60 older adults with MCI in Fuzhou, China.
Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to either an 8-week 24-hour CCT program or a health education program as the control.
Measurements: Clinical outcomes included changes in scores on the immediate and/or delayed recall subtests of the Chinese auditory verbal learning test (CAVLT) and rey complex figure test (CFT), and changes in gray matter volume and the functional connectivity of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and hippocampus in the Papez circuit on magnetic resonance imaging.
Results: Significant group-by-time effects showed greater improvements in both immediate and delayed recall scores of CAVLT and delayed recall scores of Rey CFT in participants receiving the CCT program compared to those in the health education program. Among the CCT participants, seed-based analyses revealed decreases in functional connectivity of the PCC and hippocampus with neural substrates in the parietal and occipital regions. The decreased PCC and precuneus connectivity were found to mediate patients’ improvements in immediate recall function.
Conclusion: An 8-week CCT program was effective for improving episodic memory in older individuals with MCI. The decrease in connectivity originating from the PCC and hippocampus is suggestive of potential plastic changes in the Papez circuit, which could have alleviated the age-related compensatory mechanism. The findings of this study also shed light on expanding the content and extending the frequency and duration of the CCT program in future studies. Copyright © 2023 The Authors.
CitationWu, J., He, Y., Liang, S., Liu, Z., Huang, J., Tao, J., Chen, L., Chan, C. C. H., & Lee, T. M. C. (2023). Computerized cognitive training enhances episodic memory by down-modulating posterior cingulate-precuneus connectivity in older persons with mild cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31(10), 820-832. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2023.04.008
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Cognitive training
- Episodic memory
- Papez circuit
- Functional connectivity