Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death among people 65 years of age and older. Approximately 5.4 million Americans have this irreversible, incurable, progressive disease, according to the CDC. The causes of dementia are not firmly established, although most researchers believe a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors are involved. We can’t escape our genetics, and it can be hard to change our environment in the absence of definitive causal relationships. Changing our lifestyle via behavior is also difficult; just ask anyone who struggles with weight loss, fitness, or breaking addictive habits such as smoking.
Posit Science developed BrainHQ a series of brain training exercises and assessments for improving brain health and lowering the risk of dementia. In support of BrainHQ, the company cites a report in the journal Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly of a 10-year, longitudinal study that followed more than 2,800 people from ages 74 to 84. The study measured the impact of aging on three types of training: memory strategies, reasoning strategies, and speed of processing training. The last type of training used the BrainHQ platform. According to the study, after 10 years, separate groups with memory and reasoning strategy training had no significant difference in the incidence of dementia than a control group. The group that received the speed of processing training, however, had 29% fewer cases of dementia. BrainHQ assessment and exercises are available by subscription, with a 30-day money back guarantee. The cost is $14 a month paid monthly or $96 for an annual subscription.
There are a growing number of companies with products to train or influence the human brain. Previously, we wrote about InteraXon‘s Muse headband to control stress, Halo Neuroscience ‘s Halo Sport that uses neurostimulation purportedly to improve training and performance, and Brainno Science Technology‘s Brainno designed to optimize fitness and boost brain health. We also covered the University College of London’s (UCL) dementia research center project using a game to measure navigation and spatial awareness to detect early signs of dementia. At this point, there are conflicting reports about the effectiveness of brain exercises as a means to prevent or slow dementia, but if a system is proven to be beneficial, it could help millions of patients.