Adaptive working memory strategy training in early Alzheimer’s disease: randomised controlled trial.


BACKGROUND: Interventions that improve cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease are urgently required. AIMS: To assess whether a novel cognitive training paradigm based on 'chunking' improves working memory and general cognitive function, and is associated with reorganisation of functional activity in prefrontal and parietal cortices (trial registration: ISRCTN43007027). METHOD: Thirty patients with mild Alzheimer's disease were randomly allocated to receive 18 sessions of 30 min of either adaptive chunking training or an active control intervention over approximately 8 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were also conducted. RESULTS: Adaptive chunking training led to significant improvements in verbal working memory and untrained clinical measures of general cognitive function. Further, fMRI revealed a bilateral reduction in task-related lateral prefrontal and parietal cortex activation in the training group compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: Chunking-based cognitive training is a simple and potentially scalable intervention to improve cognitive function in early Alzheimer's disease.