January 30, 2023
Zach Prelutsky

Clemson University is part of groundbreaking research to test the possible prevention of dementia through computerized brain training.

The Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training, or PACT, study is looking at prevention and early detection.

“The hope is that it reduces the risk of dementia,” said Research Assistant Professor Dr. Christy Phillips.

As part of the PACT Study, participants must be 65 years or older and not have any cognitive impairment, and will be using brain exercises developed by BrainHQ.

“This particular kind targets what we call useful field of view. Focuses on attention and speed of processing,” explains Phillips.

The study starts with a telephone screening followed by a few in-person visits. Participants are in the study for about three years, over which time they’ll spend 45 hours playing computerized brain games done mostly at home.

“The holy grail of treatment is really going to be more in the prevention sphere,” said Beth Sulkowski with the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter.

There are nearly 100,000 people in SC living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Anything that we can do to improve our chances at not developing this disease to being with or at better treating it, those are all worthy research pathways,” said Sulkowski.

The PACT study is using a $44.4 million grant from NIH after previous smaller studies suggest these specific brain exercises do have an impact on brain function, quality of life, and activities.

“That particular training seems to then lead to other types of improvements in your life,” said Phillips.

Right now there are around 500 people in the study through Clemson and researchers hope to get a total of 1,050 enrolled over the next year with an emphasis on getting people of different races into the study.

“We rely on participants to participate in clinical trials so that we will have ways of preventing these devastating diseases for maybe us but also for future generations,” said Phillips.

Results from the study will likely take 5 to 8 years before they are reportable.

Those interested in participating in the study can click here or call (864) 916-6220.