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Computer-based 'games' enhance mental function in patients with Alzheimer's

Computer-based tasks aimed at increasing mental activity and enhancing mental function can improve cognition in patients with Alzheimer's disease, serving as an effective addition to medications commonly used to treat the disease. Researchers found that the internet-accessible computer activities were even more successful than classic exercises of mental stimulation commonly used with dementia patients. The findings, from the Fundació ACE, Institut Català de Neurociències Aplicades in Barcelona, Spain, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, are published in the October issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

"The interactive multimedia internet-based system, in combination with the standard pharmacological treatment of Alzheimer's disease, provides for better cognitive function in these patients, demonstrating that they are capable of benefiting from cognitive stimulation, even after the disease has advanced," said Mr. Lluís Tárraga, lead investigator of the study and developer of the IMIS tool.

"This study shows that tasks aimed at increasing or maintaining mental function have a place in treating Alzheimer's alongside pharmacotherapy," said Oscar Lopez, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and a co-author on the study. "While further study is needed, it is encouraging to find that an internet-based program can work for cognitive stimulation, making it easily available and accessible to many people."

The study, conducted at an adult daycare center and referral clinic for community-dwelling persons with dementia in Barcelona, enrolled 46 people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. All were being treated with cholinesterase inhibitors, the most common pharmacological treatment for Alzheimer's, for at least one year prior to enrolling in the study; all participants remained on the drug for the duration of the study.

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Source:University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


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