J Clin Neurol.  2020 Apr;16(2):304-313. 10.3988/jcn.2020.16.2.304.

Efficacies of Cognitive Interventions in the Elderly with Subjective Cognitive Decline: A Prospective, Three-Arm, Controlled Trial

  • 1Department of Neurology, Uijeongbu St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Neurology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Neurology, Gangneung Asan Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Gangneung, Korea.


Background and Purpose
A cognitive intervention (CI) is thought to improve cognition and delay cognitive decline via neuronal plasticity and cognitive resilience. Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) might be the first symptomatic stage of Alzheimer's disease, but few studies have examined the beneficial effect of CIs in SCD. We aimed to determine the efficacy of a 12-week, small-group-based, multidomain CI in elderly patients with SCD.
Participants diagnosed with SCD (aged 55–75 years) were consecutively allocated to three groups: group 1, which received group-based CI implementation with lifestyle modifications; group 2, which received home-based lifestyle modifications without CI; and group 3, in which no action was taken. The primary outcome variables were the scores on computerized tests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). The secondary outcomes included scores on tests evaluating general cognition, memory, visuospatial, and executive functions, as well as scores for the quality of life (QoL), anxiety, depression, and degree of subjective complaints. Changes in scores during the study period were compared between groups.
The study was completed by 56 SCD participants. The baseline characteristics did not differ among the groups. The primary outcomes (CANTAB scores) did not differ among the groups. However, the outcomes for phonemic word fluency, verbal memory, QoL, and mood were better for group 1 than for the other two groups. Improvements in verbal memory function and executive function were related to the baseline cognitive scores and group differences.
CI in SCD seems to be partially beneficial for executive function, memory, QoL, and mood, suggesting that CI is a useful nonpharmacological treatment option in this population.


subjective cognitive decline; cognitive intervention; lifestyle modification; cognitive resilience; cognitive benefit; Alzheimer's disease
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