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Harnessing brain training games to better research, prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease

HRAkili

Brain Train­ing Data­base: Trea­sure Trove for Pre­clin­i­cal Alzheimer’s Research? (Alz­fo­rum):

Some researchers think brain games in general—which adapt to each user’s cog­ni­tive ability—may one day serve as cog­ni­tive diag­nos­tics to mon­i­tor pro­gres­sion or help enroll clin­i­cal trials.…Michael Wein­er of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co, hopes to use the game data to iden­ti­fy peo­ple who show signs of cog­ni­tive decline and may make good can­di­dates for AD pre­ven­tion trials…The Lumos­i­ty data­base offers the advan­tage of a his­tor­i­cal record of cog­ni­tive func­tion, not­ed Wein­er. “When you enroll peo­ple in clin­i­cal tri­als, you have very lit­tle his­to­ry about them,” he said. “Hav­ing some kind of objec­tive, lon­gi­tu­di­nal data, even if it’s not per­fect, can poten­tial­ly iden­ti­fy peo­ple who are at risk for future cog­ni­tive decline and AD.”

The ques­tion is, how can the Inter­net help us get to a cure more rapid­ly?” Wein­er asked. “I think there are many ways to use it, and this is one.”

Apart from their poten­tial roles in boost­ing cog­ni­tion or flag­ging peo­ple in cog­ni­tive decline, some researchers pro­pose that brain-train­ing games may also serve as sen­si­tive cog­ni­tive tests in their own right. Cog­ni­tive tests used in AD clin­i­cal tri­als, such as the MMSE, CogState, and bat­ter­ies such as the ADAS-Cog, are high­ly val­i­dat­ed and admin­is­tered under the super­vi­sion of a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist. Advances are being made in putting togeth­er com­put­er­ized com­pos­ites, which researchers hope will be sen­si­tive enough to detect peo­ple in ear­li­er stages of cog­ni­tive decline…At least one com­pa­ny is hop­ing the games will win the hearts and minds of reg­u­la­tors and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies seek­ing to detect sub­tle changes in cog­ni­tion in response to drugs, or to pick out par­tic­i­pants for such trials…In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pfiz­er, Akili plans to enroll 100 peo­ple who have sub­jec­tive mem­o­ry com­plaints that fall short of cog­ni­tive impair­ment mea­sur­able by the Mini Men­tal State Exam or ADAS-Cog.”

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