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Posit Science Program Classic and InSight: Alzheimer’s Australia

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.

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3 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. David, please see my answer to your com­ment here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3t5wjd

    Thank you!

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