International Psychogeriatrics

Review Article

A review of the effectiveness of memory interventions in mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Joshua Stotta1 c1 and Aimee Spectora1

a1 Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, U.K.


Background: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is commonly associated with memory impairment. There have been a number of studies attempting to ameliorate this through memory interventions including memory rehabilitation and training. The current paper reviews the evidence for the effectiveness of such interventions in enhancing learning of specific information, their impact on untrained material, compensation for memory impairment and improving everyday functioning.

Methods: The literature was systematically searched for studies focusing on interventions targeting memory impairment in MCI using relevant search terms. Studies were screened for inclusion or exclusion using a priori criteria and, once identified, studies were examined for quality using pre-specified criteria.

Results: A total of 226 studies were identified in the search, ten of which were included in the final review. Only one study was an RCT of “adequate” methodology. It was tentatively suggested that people with MCI can learn specific information, although there was little evidence to suggest that memory training can generalize. There was some limited evidence of ability to learn to compensate for memory difficulties and contradictory findings regarding improvement in everyday life.

Conclusions: The poor methodological quality of the included studies implies that the ability to draw conclusions is limited. MCI is a controversial concept and there is a need for good quality trials examining the efficacy of memory interventions. There are some indications that memory impairment in MCI might best be targeted by interventions developing compensatory strategies and targeting the learning of specific information relevant to the individual.

(Received June 02 2010)

(Revised June 15 2010)

(Revised September 07 2010)

(Accepted September 07 2010)

(Online publication October 15 2010)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr Joshua Stott, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BR, U.K. Phone: +44 (0)20-7679-1844; Fax: +44 (0)20-7916-1989. Email: