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Brain Sciences, Vol. 7, Pages 50: A Pilot Study on Brain Plasticity of Functional Connectivity Modulated by Cognitive Training in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment

29 Apr 2017

Brain Sciences, Vol. 7, Pages 50: A Pilot Study on Brain Plasticity of Functional Connectivity Modulated by Cognitive Training in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment

Brain Sciences doi: 10.3390/brainsci7050050

Authors:
Francesco Barban
Matteo Mancini
Mara Cercignani
Fulvia Adriano
Roberta Perri
Roberta Annicchiarico
Giovanni Augusto Carlesimo
Claudia Ricci
Maria Giovanna Lombardi
Valeria Teodonno
Laura Serra
Giovanni Giulietti
Lucia Fadda
Alessia Federici
Carlo Caltagirone
Marco Bozzali

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alters the functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) but also the topological properties of the functional connectome. Cognitive training (CT) is a tool to slow down AD progression and is likely to impact on functional connectivity. In this pilot study, we aimed at investigating brain functional changes after a period of CT and active control (AC) in a group of 26 subjects with mild AD (mAD), 26 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and a control group of 29 healthy elderly (HE) people. They all underwent a CT and AC in a counterbalanced order following a crossover design. Resting-state functional MRI and neuropsychological testing were acquired before and after each period. We tested post-CT and post-AC changes of cognitive abilities, of the functional connectivity of the DMN, and of topological network properties derived from graph theory and network-based statistics. Only CT produced functional changes, increasing the functional connectivity of the posterior DMN in all three groups. mAD also showed functional changes in the medial temporal lobe and topological changes in the anterior cingulum, whereas aMCI showed more widespread topological changes involving the frontal lobes, the cerebellum and the thalamus. Our results suggest specific functional connectivity changes after CT for aMCI and mAD.

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