Computer-Based Brain Training Addresses Many Ills

Armen Hareyan's picture

Computer-Based Brain Training

Researchers from Posit Science Corporation will make five presentations at the Society for Neuroscience this week, demonstrating the broad impact that computer-based cognitive training will have on diverse cognitive issues.

The researchers will show that brain training can address crash risk for older drivers, cognitive impairment caused by chemotherapy, processing deficiencies among schizophrenics, and processing deficiencies in fine motor control associated with hand dystonias and other repetitive strain injuries (such as carpal tunnel). In addition, the researchers will present on the key protocols that are required to make computerized cognitive training effective in such diverse areas. The presentations will take place at the Society for Neuroscience, an annual meeting of more than 30,000 brain scientists, which is being held this week in San Diego.

"We are demonstrating the effectiveness of computer-based cognitive training in an unprecedented number of areas," said Henry Mahncke, PhD, Vice President of Research at Posit Science. "We have now identified the protocols for the mechanisms that drive positive re-wiring of the brain and have applied that technology across a wide range of applications. The implications for improved brain health across a wide spectrum of health and social issues are enormous."

Dr. Mahncke noted that in addition to the five presentations from members of the in-house Posit Science research team, there would also be a large number of presentations from the more than 50 university-based scientists around the world who collaborate with Posit Science in developing, testing, refining and validating brain fitness and brain health programs.


The broad research program to be presented by Posit Science at the Society for Neuroscience includes:

-- A presentation by Peter Delahunt, PhD, on a computer-based cognitive training programs that trains the visual processing system. Dr. Delahunt demonstrated a substantial difference in the performance of older (average age 76) and younger (average age 20) adults in visual tasks. After training, the older adults were as good at the tasks as the younger adults. This has implications for driving, sports, finding things and navigating life.

-- A presentation by Sarah Kim, MS on the use of the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program to address a condition known as "chemobrain." More than 200,000 American women undergo chemotherapy each year to treat breast cancer. For up to 80% of patients, the treatment leads to cognitive dysfunction with some persistence well beyond the year of treatment. After training, the subjects reported meaningful alleviation of chemobrain symptoms and improvement in everyday function.

-- A presentation by Michael Trujillo on the use of specially designed haptic joysticks to assess the differences in fine motor control performance between musicians with hand dystonias and healthy adults. The differences were substantial. After four days of intensive training at computer-guided tasks, the impaired musicians showed improved performance on the tasks. This suggests a brain-plasticity based training regimen may be effective in treating hand dystonias.

-- A presentation by Samuel Chan, PhD on the use of a computerized cognitive training program to enhance executive function in people with schizophrenia. It is well documented that schizophrenics generally have impaired executive function abilities that prevent them from engaging fully with society. Schizophrenics trained for 20 one-hour sessions using continuous performance tasks that adapted to place increasing demands on executive function. The trained subjects showed substantial improvements in untrained standardized assessments of executive function.

-- A presentation by Joseph Hardy, PhD, on the common protocols applied across a broad range of training programs to drive positive plasticity-based changes in the brain. These are referred to as the "SAAGETM protocols," which is intended to denote that plasticity-based programs need to increase processing Speed and Accuracy by being continuously Adaptive and able to Generalize as individuals Engage their neuromodulatory systems.

"We will continue to push the envelope of our knowledge through research in the field of plasticity-based cognitive training," Dr. Mahncke said. "We have many studies underway with outstanding collaborators that will be reported out over the next year and we are continuing to undertake many new studies."


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