For early stage Alzheimer’s disease, could my brain be retrained by rote memory exercises?

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John H. Krystal, M.D.

This is an important question. Alzheimer’s disease is an illness where there remains an important unmet need in relation to preserving or enhancing cognitive function. While this is not my area of research, I am aware of efforts to develop cognitive training therapies for Alzheimer’s disease that have produced some limited benefits in pilot studies. It would be interesting to know whether the standard medication treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, such as memantine or cholinesterase inhibitors, both of which increase some forms of neuroplasticity, alter the impact of cognitive training. D-cycloserine has been explored as a medication to treat memory impairments for people with this disorder and most studies of this medication have been negative. I am not aware, though, of studies that have specifically tried to enhance the impact of memory training by adding D-cycloserine.

John H. Krystal, M.D.
Scientific Council Member
Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University