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Effects of Cognitive Training on Gray Matter Volumes in Memory Clinic Patients with Subjective Memory Impairment


Subjective memory impairment (SMI) is a common risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, with few established options for treatment. Here we investigate the effects of two months episodic memory training on regional brain atrophy in 19 memory clinic patients with SMI. We used a sensitive longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging protocol and compared the patients with 42 matched healthy volunteers randomly assigned to a group performing the same training, or a no-training control group. Following intervention, the SMI sample exhibited structural gray matter volume increases in brain regions encompassing the episodic memory network, with cortical volume expansion of comparable extent as healthy training participants. Further, we found significant hippocampal volume increases in the healthy training group but not in the SMI group. Still, individual differences in left hippocampal volume change in the patient group were related to verbal recall improvement following training. The present results reinforce earlier studies indicating intact brain plasticity in aging, and further suggest that training-related brain changes can be evident also in the earliest form of cognitive impairment.

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