Disrupted Value-Directed Strategic Processing in Individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Behavioral and Neural Correlates

Lydia T. Nguyen, Elizabeth A. Lydon, Shraddha A. Shende, Daniel A. Llano, Raksha A. Mudar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Value-directed strategic processing involves attending to higher-value information while inhibiting lower-value information. This preferential processing is relatively preserved in cognitively normal older adults but is impaired in individuals with dementia. No studies have investigated whether value-directed strategic processing is disrupted in earlier stages of cognitive decline, namely, mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The current study examined behavioral and EEG differences in value-directed strategic processing between 18 individuals with MCI and 18 cognitively normal older controls using a value-directed list learning task. Behaviorally, individuals with MCI recalled fewer total and high-value words compared to controls, but no group differences were observed in low-value word recall. Neurally, individuals with MCI had reduced theta synchronization relative to controls between 100 and 200 ms post-stimulus. Greater alpha desynchronization was observed for high-versus low-value words between 300 and 400 ms in controls but not in the MCI group. The groups showed some processing similarities, with greater theta synchronization for low-value words between 700 and 800 ms and greater alpha desynchronization for high-value words between 500 and 1100 ms. Overall, value-directed strategic processing was compromised in individuals with MCI on both behavioral and neural measures relative to controls. These findings add to the growing body of literature on differences between typical cognitive aging and MCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number56
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • alpha
  • EEG
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • strategic processing
  • theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Aging
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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