Reduced Capacity of Cognitive Control in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Hao He, Pengfei Xu, Tingting Wu, Yiqi Chen, Jing Wang, Yuehong Qiu, Jin Fan, Qing Guan, Yuejia Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cognitive control for the coordination of mental operations is essential in normal cognitive functioning of daily life. Although the decline of cognitive control in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has been demonstrated, whether this decline is a core deficit in MCI remains unclear. In this study, we employed a perceptual decision-making task to estimate the capacity of cognitive control (CCC) in older adults with MCI (n = 55) and the age-, sex-, and education-matched healthy controls (HC, n = 55) selected based on a commonly used battery of ten neuropsychological tests in five cognitive domains. We found that the CCC was significantly correlated to the neuropsychological measures of the battery. The mean CCC was significantly lower in the MCI group (3.06 bps) than in the HC group (3.59 bps) and significantly lower in the amnestic MCI subgroup (2.90 bps) than in the nonamnestic MCI subgroup (3.22 bps). In detecting and classifying MCI using machine learning, the classifier with the CCC as the input feature outperformed the overall classification with neuropsychological measures in a single cognitive domain. The classification performance was significantly increased when the CCC was included as a feature in addition to measures in a single domain, and the CCC served as a key feature in optimal classifiers with inputs from multiple domains. These results support the hypothesis that the decline in cognitive control is a core deficit in MCI and suggest that the CCC may serve as a key index in the diagnosis of MCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-200
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive control
  • classification
  • executive function
  • machine learning
  • mild cognitive impairment


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