Software Helps Combat Effects Of Depression In Baby Boomers, Seniors

Armen Hareyan's picture

Depression In Baby Boomers

New findings on the effects of computer based-training on cognitive function for baby boomers and seniors suggest that cognitive training offers a positive impact and should be prescribed for individuals living with depression.

The findings, presented here at The Alzheimer's Association International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia, are the latest data from a first-of- its-kind, double-blind clinical trial on the effects of computer-based training on cognitive function during two years for the over-50 crowd.

"The results of our clinical trial suggest that cognitive training should be widely encouraged among depressed patients," said Amos Korczyn, M.D., trial investigator, as well as chairman of the Department of Neurology for Tel-Aviv University's Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, professor and incumbent of the chair of neurology at Tel-Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and Chief Scientist for NexSig, a company that develops adaptive diagnostic systems for early detection of neurological disorders. "Scientists have established that depression is associated with dementia, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, as well as with greater cognitive and functional decline and higher rates of institutionalization."

In the research, the computer training in MindFit(TM) cognitive skill assessment and training software, created by CogniFit, Ltd., was found to improve short-term memory, spatial relations and attention focus-for all subjects. While all study participants benefited from the use of computer games, MindFit users experienced greater improvement in the cognitive domains of spatial short term memory, visuo-spatial learning and focused attention.


"Research has shown that regularly scheduled cognitive exercise can not only improve cognitive function among healthy boomers and seniors, but in patients diagnosed with MCI (minimal cognitive impairment) as well," said Prof. Shlomo Breznitz, Ph.D., founder and president of CogniFit. "As such, cognitive therapy--either alone or with existent drugs--can help fend-off Alzheimer's and help sharpen the cognitive function of those living with depression."

In the latest findings, 15.7 percent of study participants were shown to have depression (Geriatric Depression Scale>5) at baseline. Yet, the cognitive side effects of depression did not prevent that population from benefiting as much as other users from cognitive training to improve attention focus and sustainment; recognition, recall and spacial short-term memory; visuo-spatial learning; executive functions; and, mental flexibility.

The trial was conducted at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center of Tel- Aviv University in Israel, where researchers are taking a leading role in the study of age-related disorders. During the two-year clinical trial, doctors conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind study with active comparators of 121 self-referred volunteer participants age 50 and older. Each study participant was randomly assigned to spend 30 minutes, three times a week during the course of three months at home, using either MindFit or sophisticated computer games.

While all study participants benefited from the use of computer games, MindFit users experienced greater improvement in the cognitive domains of spatial short term memory, visuo-spatial learning and focused attention. Additionally, MindFit users in the study with lower baseline cognitive performance gained more than those with normal cognition, showing the potential therapeutic effect of home-based computer training software in those already suffering the effects of aging or more serious diseases.

MindFit software helps to assess and build overall cognitive skills for baby boomers, seniors and people of all ages. In other research studies, MindFit has helped users to improve their short-term memory by 18 percent. The comprehensive cognitive training program assesses, trains and enhances cognitive skills--including memory, focus, learning and concentration--and safeguards overall cognitive vitality, an overall concept patented by CogniFit. Unlike any other cognitive assessment and training software on the market, MindFit's patented, personally tailoring technology provides fun, individualized training to match users' unique cognitive skill sets, changing exercises and levels to suit each individual's unique needs.

In March, MindFit was recognized with a 2007 American Society on Aging Business and Aging Award.