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Reviews in the Neurosciences

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Volume 29, Issue 1


Computerized neurocognitive interventions in the context of the brain training controversy

Rebeca Isabel García-Betances
  • Corresponding author
  • Life Supporting Technologies (LifeSTech), Superior Technical School of Telecommunications Engineers (ETSIT), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Av. Complutense no. 30, Ciudad Universitaria, E-28040 Madrid, Spain
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ María Fernanda Cabrera-Umpiérrez
  • Life Supporting Technologies (LifeSTech), Superior Technical School of Telecommunications Engineers (ETSIT), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Av. Complutense no. 30, Ciudad Universitaria, E-28040 Madrid, Spain
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ María T. Arredondo
  • Life Supporting Technologies (LifeSTech), Superior Technical School of Telecommunications Engineers (ETSIT), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Av. Complutense no. 30, Ciudad Universitaria, E-28040 Madrid, Spain
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-08-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0031


This article presents, in the form of an analytic narrative review, a complete picture of the state-of-the-art, challenges, and perspectives in the field of information and communication technology (ICT)-based neurocognitive interventions for older adults. The narrative particularly focuses on applications aimed at mild cognitive impairment and similar age-related cognitive deficits, which are analyzed in the context of the brain training controversy. Clarifying considerations are provided about the nature and present extent of the brain training debate, regarding the possible influence it has on the support received by research and development initiatives dealing with innovative computerized neurocognitive interventions. It is recommended that, because of the preliminary nature of most data currently available in this area, further research initiatives must be supported in the quest for better effectiveness of computer-based interventions intended for age-related cognitive impairment. The conclusion suggests that advanced ICT-based tools, such as virtual and augmented reality technologies, are the most fitting platforms for applying nonpharmacological computerized neurocognitive interventions.

Keywords: computerized cognitive training; mild cognitive impairment; noninvasive cognitive interventions; virtual reality


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About the article

Rebeca Isabel García-Betances

Rebeca Isabel García-Betances is a telecommunications engineer with an MSc in biomedical engineering and is presently a biomedical engineering PhD candidate at UPM. She is a senior researcher at the LifeSTech Group, where she works on e-Health, e-Inclusion, self-management of chronic diseases, and VR in Ambient Intelligence applications. She currently manages activities for three EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme projects related to dementia self-management, brain-computer interfaces, and smart home technologies. She has authored 12 articles in refereed specialized journals in areas of communications infrastructure for rural telemedicine, automatic patient identification, patient engagement in diabetes self-management, affective and persuasive computer-mediated healthcare, ICT use for aging- and disability-derived functional impairments, and VR environments for cognitive training of the elderly and AD patients.

María Fernanda Cabrera-Umpiérrez

María Fernanda Cabrera-Umpiérrez is a telecommunications engineer with a PhD in biomedical engineering. She is an associate professor at ETSIT, UPM, and the CTO of the LifeSTech Group. She has been responsible for the concept development and coordination of large multidisciplinary national and international projects and has been the project coordinator and technical manager of more than 30 national and EU projects. She has authored more than 100 articles in national and international journals and conferences in the fields of e-Health, adaptive interfaces and decision support, and integrated care.

María T. Arredondo

María T. Arredondo is an Electrical Engineer with a PhD in Telecommunications Engineering. She is a full Professor of Bioengineering at UPM’s ETSIT. She is the CEO of LifeSTech, an international research group at UPM’s ETSIT, which she founded in 1995, dedicated to development of ICT applications to support people’s health care, welfare, quality of life, social inclusion and independent living. She has been a Principal Researcher in more than 50 EU-funded granted scientific and technical projects dealing with a variety of issues in the areas of Ambient Assisted Living and Ambient Intelligence applied to the social and healthcare sectors. She has published more than 200 papers and several books, and has served or serves on numerous committees and editorial boards.

Received: 2017-05-05

Accepted: 2017-06-29

Published Online: 2017-08-19

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no competing interests. The corresponding author had full control of all the parts of the article and has final responsibility in the decision to submit it for publication.

Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences, Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 55–69, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0031.

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