October 17, 2023
Digital Journal
Dr. Tim Sandle

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease finds that lifestyle coaching provides cognitive and functional benefits to pre-dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. This is to a level of cognitive benefit not generally seen from currently available Alzheimer’s drugs.

Part of the lifestyle coaching included the cognitive training program BrainHQ, which was developed by Posit Science. In prior studies, BrainHQ alone had been shown to decrease Alzheimer’s risk and dementia incidence.

Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science states that these new results require a new focus on lifestyle changes.

Mahncke states: “While prior studies with BrainHQ have looked at the prevention of dementia in older adults, this is the first randomized controlled trial looking at the impact of BrainHQ training in people diagnosed with pre-dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Focusing on the current findings, the expert indicates: “This study took a coached multimodal approach, similar to what was used in the Worldwide FINGER studies, but in people who already have a pre-dementia or an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The results show better post-intervention performance at both memory and functional measures than the control, making a strong argument for changing our standard of care.” FINGER is used to represent the work of the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability research group.

The prospective randomized controlled trial, called Coaching for Cognition in Alzheimer’s (COCOA), was conducted by the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle. In the trial, researchers compared two cohorts of patients – one made up of 24 participants who received standard care, the other made up of 31 participants who received standard care plus telephonic personalized coaching for lifestyle intervention.

Over a two-year period, the trial showed that personalized lifestyle coaching in addition to standard of care decreases the amount of cognitive decline in patients on the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum.

Personalized coaching focuses on diet, exercise, brain training and other lifestyle factors, and indicates that these should be part of the first line of dementia care and prevention.

The study results showed that at the end of the 2-year intervention, the participants in the coaching intervention had significantly better performance (by 2.1 points on average) on

The Memory Performance Index (MPI) compared to controls and showed significantly slower deterioration in Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scores. The MPI is an established method for reporting a patient’s memory capabilities. FAST evaluates functional abilities, including physical functional abilities (dressing and grooming), functional language abilities (memory and recognition), functional activities such as mobility or feeding themselves, and many other tasks.

The associated research paper is titled “A Remotely Coached Multimodal Lifestyle Intervention for Alzheimer’s Disease Ameliorates Functional and Cognitive Outcomes.”

Personalized coaching focused on cognitive training through BrainHQ, dietary recommendations based on the MIND diet, physical activity recommendations based on U.S. public health guidelines, and recommendations for sleep and stress management.