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Table 2 Selected features of the included studies

From: Cognitive training and cognitive rehabilitation for persons with mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's or vascular type: a review

Study Number
of conditions
Conditions compared Duration Age in years, mean (SD or SE) Education, mean (SD) Main findings
Beck et al. [55] (1988) 20 Intervention (n = 10): cognitive skills remediation training
Control (n = 10): no treatment
18 sessions of 30-40 minutes, 3 times a week for 6 weeks 75 (SD not reported) Data reported in frequencies Differences in favor of the experimental group were found on one measure of memory (recall of digits).
Heiss et al. [57] (1994) 80 Intervention (n = 18): computerized cognitive training targeting memory, perception, and motor skills
Control (n = 17): social support
48 × 60-minute sessions, twice a week for 24 weeks   Not reported Improved cognitive and brain activation outcomes were reported for the group that received cognitive training combined with pharmacological treatment (not included in the analyses).
Quayhagen et al. [9] (1995) 79 Intervention (n = 25): cognitive training facilitated by caregiver targeting memory, problem-solving, and conversational fluency, combined with weekly home visits by therapist
Control (n = 25): wait-list control
72 × 60-minute sessions for 12 weeks 73.6 (SD not specified) 12.6 (4.1) At the follow-up assessment, participants in the experimental condition were at or around baseline on cognitive and behavioral measures, whereas the control group showed further decline.
De Vreese et al. [56] (1998) 24 Intervention (n = 9): cognitive training targeting memory, language, and executive functions, combined with home practice facilitated by the caregiver
Control (n = 9): placebo medication
24 × 45-minute sessions for 12 weeks Not reported Not reported Benefits on both the cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes were observed in the group that received a combination of Ach-I and cognitive training (not included in the analyses).
Quayhagen et al. [25] (2000) 103 Intervention (n = 21): cognitive training delivered by the caregiver with therapist support and targeting memory, problem-solving, and conversational fluency
Control (n = 15): wait-list control treatment
40 × 60-minute sessions for 8 weeks 74.5 (SE = 0.7) 14.5 (SE = 0.3) At the 3-month follow-up assessment, only participants in the cognitive training group showed significant improvement in their scores on composite cognitive measures (delayed memory and verbal fluency). Caregivers of patients in this group had lower depressive symptoms.
Davis et al. [10] (2001) 37 Intervention (n = 19): cognitive training targeting face-name associations and recall using spaced retrieval, combined with home practice on attention training exercises
Control (n = 18): active control intervention consisting of weekly clinic visits involving unstructured conversation and questioning with the examiner as well as viewing health-related videos
5 × 60-minute sessions for 5 weeks 70.61 (5.74) 14.01 (3.21) Participants in the cognitive training group improved on trained tasks. However, no differences between the groups were observed on any of the untrained outcome measures.
Koltai et al. [23] (2001) 24 Intervention (n = 16): memory and coping program in individual (n = 8) or group (n = 8) sessions. The program included training and practice in strategies of spaced retrieval, face-name recall, verbal elaboration, concentration/ overt repetition, use of external memory aids, and ways of coping. Where available, caregivers joined the last 10 to 15 minutes of each session.
Control (n = 8): wait-list control
5-6 × 60-minute sessions for 5-6 weeks 73.4 (6.95) 15 Trends favoring the cognitive training group were observed, but no comparison reached statistical significance.
Cahn-Weiner et al. [24] (2003) 34 Intervention (n = 17): cognitive training program to improve word-list recall and recognition
Control (n = 17): active control group receiving didactic presentations but no formal memory training
6 × 45-minute sessions for 6 weeks 76.9 (7.05) 12.9 (2.8) No group differences were found on any of the outcome measures.
Loewenstein et al. [16] (2004) 44 Intervention (n = 25): cognitive training targeting face-name associations, orientation, attention, procedural memory, calculating change during purchase, and paying bills
Control (n = 19): an active, cognitive stimulation group engaged in generic computer games as well as in word games and exercises and in conversations about recent and distant topics
24 × 45-minute sessions for 12-16 weeks 76.4 (5.9) 13.7 (3.5) Participants in the cognitive training group improved in their performance on tasks analogous to the ones used during training to a greater extent than the mental stimulation group. There were no group differences on any of the untrained tasks.
Galante et al. [14] (2007) 11 Intervention (n = 7): computerized cognitive training targeting various cognitive domains
Control (n = 4): active control group involving participants attending sessions that included a semi-structured interview/conversations focused on current affairs in meaningful life events
12 × 60-minute sessions, 3 times per week for 4 weeks Not reported Not reported Participants in the control group have shown a decline in Mini-Mental State Examination scores over the 9 months of the study, whereas participants in the cognitive training group remained stable by the end of the study period. No other differences were observed.
Neely et al. [17] (2009) 30 dyads Intervention (n = 10): cognitive training facilitated by a therapist focusing on strategies to support everyday mnemonic and occupational performance. The cognitive training group employed spaced retrieval to practice a face-name task and hierarchical cueing to practice both a table-setting activity and the face-name task.
Control (n = 10): no-treatment group
8 × 60-minute sessions for 8 weeks 75.9 (6.6) Not reported No differences between the individual cognitive training group and the control group were observed on any of the outcome measures.
Clare et al. [54] (2010) 69 Intervention (n = 22): cognitive rehabilitation targeting patient-derived personal goals. Sessions were supported by components addressing practical aids and strategies, techniques for learning new information, practice in maintaining attention, and techniques for stress management.
Control (n = 22): no-treatment group
8 × 60-minute sessions for 8 weeks 77.2 (6.4) 11.4 (2.9) Participants in the cognitive rehabilitation group have shown a significant improvement in their rating of goal performance and satisfaction as well as increased or preserved activation in several brain regions.
  1. All studies were classified as cognitive training interventions, with the exception of the study by Clare et al. [54] (2010), which was classified as cognitive rehabilitation. All interventions were delivered individually except those of Koltai et al. [23] (2001) and Cahn-Weiner et al. [24] (2003), whose interventions were delivered in a group setting. Additional characteristics of the included studies can be found in the full version of this review in the Cochrane Library. Ach-I, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; SD, standard deviation; SE, standard error.