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In people without cognitive impairment, computerized cognitive training improves cognitive performance by a small amount
Lampit A, Hallock H, Valenzuela M. Computerized cognitive training in cognitively healthy older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effect modifiers. PLoS Med. 2014 Nov 18;11(11):e1001756.
In people without cognitive impairment, does computerized cognitive training improve cognitive performance?
Cognitive decline can involve difficulties with thinking, memory, language, and decision making and may increase risk of dementia. Cognitive stimulation is believed to reduce risk of cognitive decline and subsequent dementia.
Computerized cognitive training presents people with mentally challenging tasks on a computer and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
How the review was done
The researchers did a systematic review based on studies available up to July 2014.
They found 52 randomized controlled trials with 4,885 people (average age 60 to 82 years, 60% were women).
Key features of the trials were:
- people were healthy and did not have major cognitive, neurologic, psychiatric, or sensory impairments;
- types of training included multidomain training, speed of processing training, working memory training, attention training, and video games;
- people trained 1 or more times per week for up to 16 weeks for a total of 4 to 60 hours of training;
- training was done in groups or at home;
- training was compared with active or passive control; and
- outcomes were measured immediately after training was completed.
What the researchers found
The quality of the trials varied. 23 trials had scores of 7 or more out of 9 on a scale that measures methodologic and reporting quality. 17 trials were thought to be at low risk for bias.
Compared with control, computerized cognitive training:
- improved processing speed by a medium amount;
- improved overall cognitive outcome, nonverbal memory, and working memory by a small amount;
- improved verbal memory by a very small amount; and
- did not change executive functioning (problem-solving, judgment, and decision making) or attention.
Overall cognitive outcome was improved by computerized cognitive training when the training was done in groups but not when it was done at home.
In people without cognitive impairment, computerized cognitive training improves cognitive performance by a small amount immediately after training.
Computerized cognitive training for cognitive performance in healthy people
All cognitive outcomes
Very small improvement
Trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect everyday life.
Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.
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