International Psychogeriatrics

Research Article

Short-term practice effects in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: implications for diagnosis and treatment

Kevin Duffa1 c1, Leigh J. Beglingera1, Sara Van Der Heidena1, David J. Mosera1, Stephan Arndta1a2, Susan K. Schultza1 and Jane S. Paulsena1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, U.S.A.

a2 Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, U.S.A.


Background: Practice effects have been widely reported in healthy older adults, but these improvements due to repeat exposure to test materials have been more equivocal in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Methods: The current study examined short-term practice effects in MCI by repeating a brief battery of cognitive tests across one week in 59 older adults with amnestic MCI and 62 intact older adults.

Results: Participants with amnestic MCI showed significantly greater improvements on two delayed recall measures (p < 0.01) compared to intact peers. All other practice effects were comparable between these two groups. Practice effects significantly improved scores in the MCI group so that 49% of them were reclassified as “intact” after one week, whereas the other 51% remained “stable” as MCI. Secondary analyses indicated the MCI-Intact group demonstrated larger practice effects on two memory measures than their peers (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: These results continue to inform us about the nature of memory deficits in MCI, and could have implications for the diagnosis and possible treatment of this amnestic condition.

(Received August 06 2007)

(Revised September 17 2007)

(Revised December 12 2007)

(Accepted December 17 2007)

(Online publication April 11 2008)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Kevin Duff, University of Iowa, Department of Psychiatry, MEB 1-308, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000, U.S.A. Phone: +1 319 335 6640; Fax: +1 319 353 3003. Email: