SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • cognitive rehabilitation;
  • aging;
  • fMRI;
  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • plasticity

Abstract

Learning and memory deficits typify patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and are generally attributed to medial temporal lobe dysfunction. Although the hippocampus is perhaps the most commonly studied neuroanatomical structure in these patients, there have been few attempts to identify rehabilitative interventions that facilitate its functioning. Here, we present results from a randomized, controlled, single-blind study in which patients with MCI and healthy elderly controls (HEC) were randomized to either three sessions of mnemonic strategy training (MS) or a matched-exposure control group (XP). All participants underwent pre- and posttraining fMRI scanning as they encoded and retrieved object–location associations. For the current report, fMRI analyses were restricted to the hippocampus, as defined anatomically. Before training, MCI patients showed reduced hippocampal activity during both encoding and retrieval, relative to HEC. Following training, the MCI MS group demonstrated increased activity during both encoding and retrieval. There were significant differences between the MCI MS and MCI XP groups during retrieval, especially within the right hippocampus. Thus, MS facilitated hippocampal functioning in a partially restorative manner. We conclude that cognitive rehabilitation techniques may help mitigate hippocampal dysfunction in MCI patients. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.