October 17, 2023
Rayne Emerson

In a recent publication by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, groundbreaking research has illuminated a new path for Alzheimer’s patients, one that doesn’t rely on pharmaceuticals but rather centers on lifestyle coaching. The study demonstrated that lifestyle coaching, including cognitive training via the BrainHQ brain training app from Posit Science, offers cognitive and functional benefits not typically witnessed with Alzheimer’s drugs. This study opens doors to an innovative approach to tackling Alzheimer’s and pre-dementia cases.

Lead by Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science, the research is groundbreaking as it marks the first randomized controlled trial analyzing the impact of BrainHQ training on individuals already diagnosed with pre-dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The trial, aptly named Coaching for Cognition in Alzheimer’s (COCOA) and conducted by the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, showcased the potential of personalized lifestyle coaching to modify the trajectory of cognitive decline for patients on the Alzheimer’s spectrum.

“While prior studies with BrainHQ have looked at the prevention of dementia in older adults, the , and at , to my knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial looking at the impact of BrainHQ training in people diagnosed with pre-dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease,” observed Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “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.”

In the COCOA trial, researchers compared two groups of participants. The first group, comprised of 24 individuals, received standard care, while the second group, consisting of 31 individuals, received the same standard care alongside personalized lifestyle interventions, including telephonic coaching and cognitive training using the BrainHQ app. The study was generously funded by Providence St. Joseph Health, emphasizing the significance of the health system’s commitment to Alzheimer’s research.

Over a span of two years, the trial results demonstrated a meaningful reduction in cognitive decline among participants who received personalized lifestyle coaching, showcasing the potential of integrating lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and cognitive training as fundamental components of dementia care and prevention.

The individuals who received the lifestyle coaching intervention exhibited a remarkable 2.1-point increase on the Memory Performance Index (MPI) compared to the control group. Furthermore, the intervention group displayed notably slower deterioration in Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scores, affirming the positive impact of the multimodal approach.

The personalized coaching approach adopted in the COCOA trial was comprehensive, focusing on essential aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Participants received personalized guidance on cognitive training through BrainHQ, dietary recommendations based on the MIND diet, physical activity recommendations in line with U.S. public health guidelines, and expert advice on managing sleep and stress effectively.

BrainHQ has shown benefits in hundreds of studies, and has showcased a range of benefits, including improvements in cognition, quality of life, and real-world activities. Numerous studies have highlighted the gains in attention, processing speed, memory, decision-making, depressive symptoms, confidence, and control. BrainHQ is now readily available through leading national and 5-star Medicare Advantage plans, as well as prominent medical centers, clinics, and communities, emphasizing its accessibility and potential to reach a wide audience seeking cognitive enhancement.

Dr. Mahncke’s expert commentary, featured in esteemed publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, International Business Times, MarketWatch, TechCrunch, and Forbes, among others, underscores the significance and credibility of this breakthrough research. The COCOA trial results present a compelling case for the integration of lifestyle coaching and cognitive training into the standard care protocol for Alzheimer’s patients, shifting the narrative from medication-centric approaches to more holistic and effective solutions.

The findings from the COCOA trial provide a promising and groundbreaking avenue for enhancing the lives of individuals on the Alzheimer’s spectrum. This study underscores the transformative potential of personalized lifestyle coaching, highlighting the imperative of a multifaceted approach in dementia care. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of Alzheimer’s, this study stands as a beacon of hope, paving the way for a brighter future for those affected by this debilitating condition.