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


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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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