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:
- Build Your Cognitive Reserve-Yaakov Stern.
- Art Kramer on Why We Need Walking Book Clubs.
- Improving Driving Skills and Brain Functioning- Interview with ACTIVE’s Jerri Edwards.
This is great, I just wish Alzheimer organizations in the US would be as proactive as this one in Australia. I have used both Posit Science programs and love them and feel like my life is really better because of them. Although buying both can be pricey it was worth the nickels I scratched together.
David Gribble says
Alzheimer’s Australia WA enlisted Curtin University Centre for Research on Ageing to conduct a literature and provider review into neuroplasticity and memory enhancement in older people. The result of a two year process of investigation and review by our organisation identified Posit Science as the only provider who had a significant body of clinical trial evidence to support the efficacy of their products.
Alzheimer’s Australia supports the Posit Science programs as one way of staying mentally active (a dementia risk reduction strategy that we clearly support) that also provides proven individual benefit to memory and cognitive function in people experiencing age-related memory loss.
The organisation does not promote these programs to people with dementia, nor on the basis that using them will delay or prevent dementia. Very preliminary pilot study evidence indicates they may have some therapeutic benefit for people with early dementia or MCI, and Alzheimer’s Australia WA is currently engaged with Curtin and Edith Cowan Universities here in Australia to undertake pilot studies to explore this further.
We are also undertaking an 18-month government-funded demonstration project to trial the use of these programs in residential communities, senior’s fitness groups and the workplace, and evaluation of both individual benefit and the sustainability of each group model will be undertaken as part of this process.
Alvaro Fernandez says
David, please see my answer to your comment here: