Background: Group therapy interventions represent an effective and concrete rehabilitation alternative for people with Alzheimer’s disease (PWA); interestingly, a recent review show that art therapy is useful approach in dementia (Chancellor et al., 2014) improving cognitive and behavioral functions and well-being of PWA. Aims: To investigate the effects of a rehabilitative approach based on group visual art treatment on memory, language, visuo-constructional and executive abilities, art reasoning and well-being in PWA. Possible changes in neural functions at rest were also investigated. Methods: 18 persons (Mean age=76.6, SD=5.22) with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI; n=11) or mild-AD (n=7) underwent a twice weekly group treatment using visual art and drawing for 7 weeks. Neuropsychological, functional and behavioral evaluations were performed blindly by a neuropsychologist at baseline and at the end of treatment. Motor indexes of Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test were collected with a technological device. Participants underwent a fMRI before and after the treatment. Results were obtained comparing participants’ performances at the first evaluation session vs. the latest. The PWA group was also observed by two independent judges trained in the use of the Italian adaptation of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter Well-Being Observational Tool (Sauer et al., 2014). Results: General cognition (MMSE, p <.01) and language comprehension (Token, p <.01) were positively affected by the intervention. Improvements in the recall and execution of the Rey figure were found in AD>MCI (Fig. 1). Changes in the neural functions at rest were also found. Significant correlation (p <.001) between judges scores of Greater Cincinnati Chapter Well-Being Observational Tool was observed and a good level of tool reliability was confirmed. In the AD group, a higher social interest (p =.052) together with a lower disengagement (p < .05) we observed. Although no significant, engagement and pleasure presented a positive trend while sadness and negative affect a negative one. Conclusions: These preliminary data bring further evidence of the importance of group treatments based on the visual arts in optimizing the management of individuals with AD on different domains.
- fMRI, Neuropsychological assessment, cognitive decline, group rehabilitation, visual art intervention