Memory Aid – Computer Based Working Memory Training in Elderly with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Institution: Sørlandet Hospital

Investigator(s): Gro Løhaugen, Ph.D., Jon Skranes, M.D., Susanne Hernes, M.D., Ingun Ulstein, M.D., Ph.D., Linda Chang, M.D., Anders M. Dale, Ph.D. Håkon Ramsland Hol, M.D., Elisabeth Holck-Steen Håkon Torgunrud, M.D.

Program: Cogmed QM

Background & Aim: Cognitive decline and memory loss represents a major national and global public health problem. Dementia is a serious illness with a disability-weight higher than almost any other medical condition. The number of patients with dementia are increasing, and approximately 88.1 million people will be suffering from dementia in 2040. A substantial number of this patient group, especially the ones who develop dementia, will need extensive health care services. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition with some memory loss, and is often viewed as a pre-dementia state. It is estimated that 15 percent of patients with MCI develop dementia (Alzheimers disease) every year, which is significantly higher than within the general population. MCI often presents at a younger age than Alzheimer’s dementia, and may therefore have even more impact on ability to work.

At present, there is no known cure for memory decline or other cognitive deficits that follows MCI. An intervention able to train and restore memory functions including the so called “working memory” (WM), and thereby stop or postpone further development of cognitive impairment would relieve the suffering of large patient group as well as possibly reduce the cost for the society. High quality research with structured design, including randomized controlled trials where specific restorative effects of functions can be detected, is therefore needed. The intervention investigated in the proposed innovative research project is based on principles of neuroplasticity: the capability of the human brain to restore WM-functions with training. The aim is to evaluate training intervention effectiveness for MCI-patients. The proposed study is translational, interdisciplinary, international and may have direct consequences for the treatment offered to this patient group in the clinic.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate if Cogmed Working Memory Training is effective in improving or preserving working memory (WM) capacity in patients diagnosed with MCI over time. Transfer effects to other cognitive functions, including learning/memory, attention and executive functions as well a psychological well being and activities of daily living will also be evaluated post working memory training in MCI patients. Furthermore, possible effects Cogmed has on the structural changes in white and gray matter of the brain will be investigated. Finally, an evaluation of possible genetic biomarkers for WM trainability will be performed.

Population & Sample Size: N = 90 adults with MCI

Design: Randomized, Placebo controlled, Blinded, Test-retest, 6 Month Follow Up, DTI