Cognitive training offers hope for individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment.


In my previous article “Cognitive training or Video Games” I presented results of a peer-reviewed publication. Those results showed that, if you want to improve cognitive function, individualized and systematic cognitive training achieves much better results than playing a selection of 12 popular video games for the same amount of time. The participants in this earlier article were cognitively healthy older adults.

But what happens if you train individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a form of more pronounced cognitive and memory decline that sometimes accompanies ageing? What will happen if you let one MCI group use a personalized and systematic cognitive training program such as CogniFit and the other MCI group play the 12 popular video games?

To answer this question, researchers at the Tel-Aviv Surasky Medical Center randomly assigned 65 volunteers to practice at home for 3 months, 3 times a week for half an hour each session with CogniFit or with the video games. To evaluate differences between the groups as a result of the interventions a statistical procedure known as mixed models for repeated measures was used. A well validated mainstream neurocognitive evaluation served to measure neurocognitive function before and after the interventions.

The results, presented at the IAHSA International Assossiation of  Homes and services for the Aging, 8th International Conference showed that the CogniFit group improved significantly in Focused Attention, Sustained Attention, Memory-recognition, Memory-recall, Visual-Spatial learning, Executive Functions and Mental Flexibility. The video games group, however, improved significantly only on Attention (focused and sustained) and Memory-recognition.

These results are strong evidence that individualized and systematic cognitive training can truly assist older adults with mild cognitive impairment. These results are doubly important because this population of older adults is known to be in a state of continuous cognitive decline and some among those individuals progress to develop Alzheimer’s disease so that, maintaining cognitive function over time is essential for these individuals.

Individually designed cognitive training can be expected to help individuals who display cognitive impairment not only due to ageing but also for other reasons, such as a psychiatric condition such as Schizophrenia, a neurological one such as Multiple Sclerosis or a medical one such as the use of chemotherapy or the result of sleep deprivation, such as Insomnia. My next article will describe exciting cognitive training work done in a population of patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

The poster presented at the IAHSA, 8th International Conference by Peretz, C., Korczyn, Shatil, E. A.D. Aharonson, V. and Giladi, N, includes more information on this trial. A copy can be obtained by contacting the Evelyn Shatil.

Dr. Evelyn Shatil is Head of Cognitive Science at CogniFit. In this capacity she has established and is heading CogniFit’s scientific research program which includes a large and growing number of research collaborations in the US, Canada, Europe and Israel.

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