Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Neurology / 11.08.2020
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Henry Mahncke, PhD
Chief Executive Officer BrainHQ
Dr. Mahncke earned his PhD at UCSF in the lab where lifelong brain plasticity was discovered. At the request of his academic mentor, he currently leads a global team of more than 400 brain scientists engaged in designing, testing, refining, and validating the computerized brain exercises found in the BrainHQ app from Posit Science, where he serves as CEO.
MedicalResearch.com Tell us what’s important about this new study in people with Down Syndrome? Response: Often, we believe that genetic conditions are predetermined and completely inalterable, but this new study underscores that, when it comes to the brain, positive change is almost always possible – regardless of age or health condition. That’s consistent with the science of brain plasticity, and it’s a very different and hopeful way to think about the potential of people with Down Syndrome – and people, generally. MedicalResearch.com: Can you briefly describe Down Syndrome and findings in this study? Response: Down Syndrome is one of the most common genetic abnormalities in humans, found in about 1 in 1,000 births each year, and caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy . of chromosome 21.It’s usually associated with physical growth delays and characteristic facial features. While cognitive abilities vary enormously, one study estimates the average IQ of a young adults is about 50 (comparable to average 8 or 9 year olds). In a pilot study among 12 people with Down Syndrome involving physical, cognitive and EEG measurements, researchers at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, found a 10-week combined protocol of physical exercises and computerized brain training led to a reorganization of the brain and to improved performance on both cognitive and physical measures. The physical training consisted of aerobic, flexibility, strength, and balance exercises. The cognitive training used in the study was the Greek version of the commercially-available BrainHQ brain app, consisting of 29 visual and auditory exercises targeting memory, attention, processing speed, problem-solving, navigation, and social skills. The researchers had hypothesized that the training would trigger the brain’s neuroplasticity – its ability to change chemically, structurally and functionally. Their results showed increased connectivity within the left hemisphere and from left to right hemisphere, as well as improved performance on physical and cognitive assessments. (more…)