Journal article

Randomized trial on the effects of a combined physical/cognitive training in aged MCI subjects: the Train the Brain study

Age-related cognitive impairment and dementia are an increasing societal burden. Epidemiological studies indicate that lifestyle factors, e.g. physical, cognitive and social activities, correlate with reduced dementia risk; moreover, positive effects on cognition of physical/cognitive training have been found in cognitively unimpaired elders. Less is known about effectiveness and action mechanisms of physical/cognitive training in elders already suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a population at high risk for dementia. We assessed in 113 MCI subjects aged 65-89 years, the efficacy of combined physical-cognitive training on cognitive decline, Gray Matter (GM) volume loss and Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) in hippocampus and parahippocampal areas, and on brain-blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) activity elicited by a cognitive task, measured by ADAS-Cog scale, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL) and fMRI, respectively, before and after 7 months of training vs. usual life. Cognitive status significantly decreased in MCI-no training and significantly increased in MCI-training subjects; training increased parahippocampal CBF, but no effect on GM volume loss was evident; BOLD activity increase, indicative of neural efficiency decline, was found only in MCI-no training subjects. These results show that a non pharmacological, multicomponent intervention improves cognitive status and indicators of brain health in MCI subjects.


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