SAN FRANCISCO — Researchers report a relatively small amount of brain training is required to reduce dementia risk in the Body, Brain, Life for Cognitive Decline (BBL-CD) study. The brain training used in the study was BrainHQ from Posit Science, a commercially-available brain app.
In 2020, the BBL-CD study first reported a reduction in dementia risk through lifestyle adjustments. The study used the Australian National University Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Index (ANU-ADRI) to monitor dementia risk as well as a cognitive composite measure, at baseline, week 9, week 20, and week 32. Researchers found a significant reduction in dementia risk in the intervention group, as compared to the control, at week 20, as well as a significant improvement in the cognitive composite score at weeks 20 and 32. The results suggest that lifestyle education alone is not as effective as education plus practical activities.
The randomized controlled trial enrolled 119 participants (with Subjective Cognitive Decline and/or Mild Cognitive Impairment; mean age 73; 61% female) into either an active control or intervention group. The active control group received four online educational modules over the first six weeks: dementia literacy and lifestyle risk, Mediterranean diet, cognitive engagement, and physical activity.
The intervention group received the same educational modules, but was also assigned practical components to help them put what they learned into practice: two hours with a dietitian across several appointments, one hour with an exercise physiologist in a single appointment, and two hours a week of BrainHQ training for 27 weeks (54 hours), with no supervision.
This follow-on report looked at compliance with the requested intervention and changes in real-world behavior. Nearly 85% stayed in the intervention for 32 weeks, indicating high acceptability. Participants completed the full two hours with the dietician, the full hour with the exercise physiologist, and an average of 10.8 hours of training with BrainHQ. Study measures showed that participants made significant changes in diet and in cognitive engagement – both of which are key measures of dementia risk – but did not make significant changes in levels of physical activity.
Noting that the brain training was done with no supervision, the researchers found “the cognitive training dosage prescribed for the intervention group in the protocol may have exceeded the level required to have an effect” – even just 10.8 hours of training was sufficient to show significant gains in overall cognitive engagement over the 32-week study.
The researchers also note the amount of brain training completed was comparable to other studies using BrainHQ, including what was found in the ACTIVE Study. In that 10-year study comparing brain training to other cognitive training (reasoning and memory) and a control group, only brain training was found to reduce dementia risk significantly, based on dementia incidence reported over the subsequent 10 years. Those asked to complete 10 hours of brain training had a 29% risk reduction, while a subgroup who completed 14-18 hours had a 48% risk reduction.
“This study shows people can use BrainHQ on their own and do sufficient brain training to significantly improve their cognitive engagement and reduce dementia risk,” observed Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “It means brain health interventions – including BrainHQ – can work not just in the laboratory, but in the real world.”
“Brain exercise is often compared to physical exercise,” Dr. Mahncke continued, “and it’s similar in that more is generally better. However, unlike physical exercise, just 10 hours of brain training can make a significant difference, both immediately and many years later. That’s because, as studies have shown, BrainHQ rewires the brain in a manner that has strong impact and long persistence.”
BrainHQ has shown benefits in hundreds of studies. Such benefits include gains in cognition (attention, processing speed, memory, decision-making), in quality of life (depressive symptoms, confidence and control, safety, health-related quality of life) and in real-world activities (health outcomes, balance, driving, hearing, work). BrainHQ is now offered, without charge, by leading national and 5-star Medicare Advantage plans and by leading medical centers, clinics, and communities. Consumers can try a BrainHQ exercise for free daily at http://www.brainhq.com.