Brain Training Can Strengthen Cognitive Function in Patients With Mild Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman PhDFounder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth,Co-Leader, The BrainHealth ProjectUniversity of Texas, Dallas

Dr. Chapman

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman PhD
Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth,
Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project
University of Texas, Dallas

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Finding effective treatments to reverse or slow rates of cognitive decline for those at risk for developing dementia is one of the most important and urgent challenges of the 21st century.

Brain stimulation is gaining attention as a viable intervention to increase neuroplasticity when used in isolation or when combined with cognitive training regimens. Given the growing evidence that certain cognitive training protocols, such as SMART, benefit people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a population that is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, we were interested in exploring whether we could further increase the gains from cognitive training (i.e., SMART) when the training was preceded by brain stimulation using tDCS.  Continue reading

Commercial Brain Training Device Reduces Working Memory

Laura Steenbergen, MSc., PhD Candidate Cognitive Psychology at Institute of Psychology Leiden UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Laura Steenbergen, MSc., PhD Candidate
Cognitive Psychology at Institute of Psychology
Leiden University 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A recent initiative supported by several eminent research institutes and scientists calls for a more critical and active role of the scientific community in evaluating the sometimes far-reaching, sweeping claims from the brain training industry with regard to the impact of their products on cognitive performance. tDCS is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that has developed into a promising tool to boost human cognition. Previous studies using medical tDCS devices have shown that tDCS promotes working memory (WM) updating in healthy individuals and patients. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the commercial tDCS headset foc.us (v.1), which is easily and freely available to anyone in the world, does in fact improve cognitive performance, as advertised in the media. Results showed that active stimulation with the commercial device, compared to sham stimulation, significantly decreased working memory performance. The device we tested is just one example of a commercial device that can easily be purchased and, without any control or expert knowledge, used by anyone. The results of our study are straightforward in showing that the claims made by companies manufacturing such devices need to be validated. Even if the consequences of long-term or frequent use of the device are yet to be demonstrated, our findings provide strong support the important role of the scientific community in validating and testing far reaching claims made by the brain training industry.

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