There are many products (e.g., drugs, plant products) and services available to citizens touting that they can improve memory, cognitive skills and even cure Alzheimer’s disease (Alz). It is a large market, since nearly all wish for better cognitive skills. Also, older citizens fear Alz for good reasons (they see the terrible effects of Alz among their family and friends). The sad fact: Most, actually nearly all, of these products and services have no decent scientific evidence to support their claims. They are scams. The sellers are playing on the wishes and fears of the public. A goodly portion of this problem is due to a 1994-law severely limiting FDA-oversight over so-called nutritional supplements (see our book Sleep, Drugs & Alzheimer’s Disease).
There is one program worth your money. It is a program systematically developed by scientific research and developed over many years of work. As the research progressed, it became apparent that brain-health could be sustained or improved by what might be called cognitive exercise. However, not just any cognitive exercise will perform well. From the early indications that cognitive exercise could modify the brain for the better, a small group of scientists became dedicated to actually developing and systematically improving cognitive exercises that might, indeed, improve cognitive skills of the average citizen. Other scientists (some highly skeptical of the idea) have been involved with further testing the basic idea that cognitive exercises could actually significantly reduce the cognitive decline characteristic of aging and prevent the development of diseases like Alz. We now know that the programs developed by this small group of scientists are effective in sustaining and improving cognition.
The originators established a company called Posit Science, in part to sustain further research and, in part, to use the internet to market the programs that could deliver a product that can, when used regularly, sustain and enhance cognitive skills (and thereby perform a very good service to many). They have named their program of cognitive exercises BrainHQ.
Posit Science has patents on many of their procedures and products. Nevertheless, many companies have developed computer-based cognitive exercises similar to those of BrainHQ. They make programs without a basic understanding of what it takes to actually improve cognitive skills and without scientific studies to guide their development. Consequently, these made-to-only-make-money programs all fail. These quickly developed programs are often flashy and well-advertised, however, they all fail. The multiple disappointments of hastily developed programs of cognitive exercise has fostered the belief that no program of cognitive exercise can be helpful. The good news is: The one program supported by extensive research has been proven to be significantly helpful in sustaining cognitive skills among aging individuals, provided that citizens actually do the exercises.
Two ways to train your brain
If you want, you can have BrainHQ tell you exactly which exercises to do, and in which order: the personalized trainer feature, designed by scientists, continually measures your performance and serves up the exercises that are right for you.
A common question is: Does BrainHQ brain training make things easier or better in everyday life, or does it just “teach to the tests”?
A few proven, specific benefits of engaging the exercises of BrainHQ.
- As shown in18 published research-articles, BrainHQ training helped people to perform daily activities more efficiently and accurately. Among other things, (a) people performed better at “instrumental activities of daily living such as handling money and medications more quickly” and (b) those who trained felt more capable in their daily activities, such as remembering a shopping list and hearing better in crowed places.
- Two studies have demonstrated that using exercises in BrainHQ can reduce average health-care expenses. The larger one showed that using BrainHQ significantly reduced health-care costs one-year post-training. Costs continued to be lower 5 to10 years later.
- There are good reasons to conclude that doing the balance training recommended by NIA (see our program on exercise and fitness) and doing BrainHQ will reduce falls and accidents (resulting in, e.g., broken hips) that take a terrible toll on the elderly.
- Research shows that training with BrainHQ’s visual attention exercises—especially Double Decision—can reduce dangerous driving maneuvers by 38%, decrease stopping distance by 22 feet at 55 mph, and cut at-fault crashes by 48%. That’s why American Automobile Association (AAA) started offering a set of these exercises to many of their insurance customers. More than 50,000 drivers have now used the exercises to improve their driving safety. It works: AAA gets 30% fewer claims from people who trained with the exercises.