Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 63–80

Efficacy of Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapies for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in Older Adults: Working Toward a Theoretical Model and Evidence-Based Interventions

  • Marilyn Huckans
  • Lee Hutson
  • Elizabeth Twamley
  • Amy Jak
  • Jeffrey Kaye
  • Daniel Storzbach


To evaluate the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation therapies (CRTs) for mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Our review revealed a need for evidence-based treatments for MCI and a lack of a theoretical rehabilitation model to guide the development and evaluation of these interventions. We have thus proposed a theoretical rehabilitation model of MCI that yields key intervention targets–cognitive compromise, functional compromise, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and modifiable risk and protective factors known to be associated with MCI and dementia. Our model additionally defines specific cognitive rehabilitation approaches that may directly or indirectly target key outcomes–restorative cognitive training, compensatory cognitive training, lifestyle interventions, and psychotherapeutic techniques. Fourteen randomized controlled trials met inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Studies markedly varied in terms of intervention approaches and selected outcome measures and were frequently hampered by design limitations. The bulk of the evidence suggested that CRTs can change targeted behaviors in individuals with MCI and that CRTs are associated with improvements in objective cognitive performance, but the pattern of effects on specific cognitive domains was inconsistent across studies. Other important outcomes (i.e., daily functioning, quality of life, neuropsychiatric symptom severity) were infrequently assessed across studies. Few studies evaluated long-term outcomes or the impact of CRTs on conversion rates from MCI to dementia or normal cognition. Overall, results from trials are promising but inconclusive. Additional well-designed and adequately powered trials are warranted and required before CRTs for MCI can be considered evidence-based.


Mild cognitive impairment Cognitive rehabilitation therapy Cognitive training Systematic review Neuropsychological Dementia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilyn Huckans
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 11
  • Lee Hutson
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Twamley
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Amy Jak
    • 7
  • Jeffrey Kaye
    • 8
    • 9
    • 10
  • Daniel Storzbach
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Research & Development Service, Portland VA Medical CenterPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Health and Clinical Neurosciences Division, Portland VA Medical CenterPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  5. 5.Stein Institute for Research on AgingUniversity of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  6. 6.Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health, VA San Diego Healthcare SystemSan DiegoUSA
  7. 7.Department of Psychology ServiceVA San Diego Healthcare SystemSan DiegoUSA
  8. 8.Department of NeurologyPortland VA Medical CenterPortlandUSA
  9. 9.Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease CenterOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  10. 10.Oregon Center for Aging and Technology (ORATECH)Oregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  11. 11.Portland VA Medical Center (MHN)PortlandUSA

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