Compensatory Cognitive Training Research Program (CCTRP)

Maya O’Neil, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator

Multiple factors can contribute to cognitive decline (e.g., traumatic brain injuries, addictions, mild cognitive impairment).  This program aims to address the growing need for cognitive rehabilitation interventions and looks to understand the efficacy of treatments, particularly Compensatory Cognitive Training (CCT), on various conditions which have been associated with cognitive decline. 

Compensatory Cognitive Training Research Program (CCTRP)

Compensatory Cognitive Training (CCT) is a brief, inexpensive, patient-centered, holistic/comprehensive, multi-modal, behavioral intervention developed by Dr. Huckans, Dr. Twamley, and colleagues.  CCT includes cognitive training, psychotherapeutic techniques, and lifestyle techniques and teaches individuals skills to address attention, memory and executive function problems.  CCT also incorporates day planner/calendar training, brief mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises to improve cognition and general health, and brief motivational interviewing techniques to increase healthy lifestyle behaviors (e.g., physical exercise, mental exercise, and nutrition) associated with improved cognition.

Sessions provide psychoeducation on the targeted concern (e.g., addiction, TBI, PTSD, or MCI) and evaluate the risk and protective factors associated with cognitive decline.  Compensatory cognitive skills training emphasizes teaching individuals internal, external, and environmental strategies for improving memory, attention, and executive functioning.

Prior research with CCT was conducted with Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).  This study indicated that CCT was associated with significant improvements in objective cognitive performance, subjective cognitive complaints, and subjective everyday functioning. CCT in this study was found to be effective for Veterans regardless of the presence of mental health comorbidities including PTSD, depression, and substance use.

Current research

Compensatory Cognitive Training Research Program (CCTRP)

Cognitive Rehabilitation for Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Dr. O'Neil is currently conducting research with Veterans, aged 55 and older, who are experiencing symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  Individuals with MCI symptoms may be experiencing issues with memory, attention, executive functions, and everyday functioning.  This study is being conducted at the VA Portland Health Care System, with groups being provided at both the Portland and Vancouver VA campuses.  Participants are randomized into one of two groups, each lasting eight-weeks long, two hours each week. 

Cartoon of a blue head with gears where the brain is located

Compensatory Cognitive Training for PTSD: Dr. O’Neil is currently conducting research with Veterans up to age 60 who have PTSD but who do not have a history of traumatic brain injury. This study is a randomized controlled trial of CCT for PTSD to address cognitive complaints (e.g., difficulty concentrating or paying attention, memory, multitasking, decision-making, and other aspects of cognitive functioning) often associated with PTSD. This study is being conducted at the VA Portland Health Care System, with 8-week groups being provided at the Portland campus.

The CCTRP is also currently collecting pilot data for a study focused on individuals with cognitive complaints and addictions.