Cognitive Intervention to Improve Working Memory

  • End date
    Apr 30, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of California, Los Angeles
Updated on 26 June 2021


Adolescents with single ventricle heart disease (SVHD) (10 males and 10 females) with mild to moderate cognitive impairment will participate in a total of 25 computer-based working memory training sessions, each 30-40 minutes (5 days a week for 5 weeks) supervised by a trained coach. Primary objective is to evaluate the impact of the Cogmed intervention on working memory scores and the secondary objective to assess brain tissue changes with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques, measures of mean diffusivity pre- and post-intervention.


Adolescents with single ventricle heart disease (SVHD) show brain injuries in sites (hippocampus, mammillary bodies, thalamus, and frontal cortices) that are associated with cognitive deficits, in particular working memory. A key component of cognition, and thus, an important influence on academic performance, self-care ability, quality of life, and morbidity and mortality, is working memory. However, it is unclear whether cognition, as well as brain tissue integrity can be improved with cognition intervention. Among available interventions, a possible intervention to improve working memory and brain status in SVHD is Cogmed, which is an interactive, computer-based intervention, specifically designed for children and young adults, to improve attention and working memory with significant effectiveness in other pediatric conditions associated with brain injury. A unique feature of the Cogmed program is the in-home support of trained coaches for the duration of the intervention (5 days/week for 5 weeks), which optimizes adherence and confirms completion of the tasks. The investigators will use a one group pre- post-intervention design, 20 subjects (10 males and 10 females), with inclusion criteria: 14-18 years of age, have undergone surgical palliation, and score 25-10 (mild to moderate cognitive impairment) on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) screener. Using non-invasive brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) based mean diffusivity (MD), an MRI measure of tissue integrity, can identify changes in the hippocampus, mammillary bodies, thalamus, and frontal cortices pre- and post- cognitive intervention. Therefore, the specific aims of this proposal are to: 1) examine the impact of Cogmed intervention on working memory (working memory index [WMI] score from the WRAML2) in adolescents with SVHD (pre- and post-intervention); 2) assess the effect of Cogmed on brain structural integrity (DTI-based MD procedures) in sites that control memory (hippocampus, mammillary bodies, thalamus, and frontal cortices) in adolescents with SVHD (pre- and post-intervention); and 3) examine if there is an impact of the Cogmed intervention on cognition and brain tissue integrity based on sex in SVHD.

In summary, SVHD adolescents have significant cognitive deficits that are linked to brain injury in regions, which control such functions. Intervention to improve cognition and brain injury in SVHD is unclear, but a potential innovative treatment for such symptoms and brain injury is Cogmed. The information from this pilot study has the potential to revolutionize the clinical treatment specific to cognitive deficits in SVHD and other types of congenital heart defects. In addition, the clinical implications are considerable as improved working memory skill has the potential to increase academic achievement, improve self-care, reduce mortality and morbidity, and increase quality of life in this high risk, growing population.

Condition Single Ventricle Heart Disease
Treatment Cognitive Computer Based Intervention
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03687008
SponsorUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Last Modified on26 June 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

be 14-18 years old
have SVHD
undergone Fontan completion
understands English
able to read computer screen
have phone access
MoCA score of 25 to 10

Exclusion Criteria

presence of loose metal
prior head injury or stroke
clinical diagnosis of depression
previous cardiac arrest and ECMO use
currently listed for heart transplant
known genetic syndrome
severe developmental delay
born less than 35 weeks gestation
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