Sep 24, 2008
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Brain-fitness plan can improve memory (Sydney Morning Herald), reports on the recent endorsement of Posit Science’s programs (Posit Science Program Classic, focused on auditory processing training, and Posit Science Cortex™ with InSight™, on visual processing). Quotes:
– “While the group says it has concerns about endorsing a commercial product selling for almost $400, it is confident the benefits to the community will be wide-ranging.”
– “Likely purchasers of the program include nursing homes, libraries and telecentres and groups supporting and servicing dementia sufferers.”
– “This is core business for us … one of our clear strategic objectives is to assist the community to reduce the risk of developing dementia,” Alzheimer’s Australia strategic directions general manager David Gribble said in Perth on Friday.
– “(It is) one of the seven aspects of lifestyle that all of the research shows will reduce risk is staying mentally active.”
Comment: Alzheimer’s Australia is adopting a more aggressive attitude than peers in other countries (such as the Alzheimer’s Association here in the US). Alzheimer’s Australia first endorsed Nintendo Brain Age (also called Nintendo Brain Training) and now the Posit Science programs (both Posit Science Program Classic and Posit Science Cortex™ with InSight™.
This brings to surface a genuine public health dilemma: do you, as an association, promote programs before they have been shown to have long-term effects on Alzheimer’s progression and prevalence, or do you wait until you have “perfect” research, and then perhaps lose 10-20-30 years or useful contribution to thousands/ millions of brain’s Cognitive Reserves? A tough judgment call.
In my view, it may well be worth to offer interventions that are free of side effects (apart from time and money invested) as long as Alzheimer’s Australia does a serious job of independently measuring the cognitive benefits that may be brought by the programs. For example, Alzheimer’s Australia could offer free or reduced-cost online cognitive assessments to the public at large, and to people buying the Posit Science programs (and the Nintendo ones), to enable pretty fascinating ongoing comparative research.
Perhaps time to call leading Australian cognitive assessment companies such as Brain Resource and CogState?
Relevant interviews with scientists: