Most Comprehensive Meta-Analysis to Date Concludes Brain Training Works
(SAN FRANCISCO) Researchers have published the most comprehensive meta-analysis ever conducted of cognitive training and concluded that – despite variation in the field – brain training works. The most studied brain training exercises in the analysis were from Posit Science, which are commercialized as BrainHQ.
A meta-analysis combines and analyzes data from many different studies, using advanced mathematical and statistical methods. It is a quantitative analysis that is considered more scientifically rigorous than commentary or review articles on a group of studies.
This meta-analysis was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and included 215 studies, making it the largest analysis of cognitive training ever conducted. It included studies among healthy older adults and among people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (a pre-dementia condition), who received either computerized or manual cognitive training. The researchers also looked at transfer of benefits to measures closely related to the training (sometimes called “near transfer”) and at transfer to measures of real-world function (sometimes called “far transfer”).
The authors wrote: “Our results show that cognitive training had a moderately large net-gain effect on near transfer and a smaller, but significant, net-gain effect on far transfer… In addition to these far transfer effects, we specifically investigated transfer to everyday functioning. Everyday functioning, an index of functional independence, is considered to be the far transfer task in most targeted cognitive interventions. We found that cognitive interventions indeed had a significant effect on everyday functioning…”
This finding provides further support for recent recommendations from clinical organizations, such as the American Academy of Neurology and the World Health Organization, which have included cognitive training in recent guidelines for cognitive health.
“These researchers truly advanced the science by casting a wide net in looking at studies, and then using sound statistical methods to identify what is most effective,” observed Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “This represents a substantial advance over some previous reviews that looked at only a small number of studies. However, every rigorous meta-analysis published in the past five years has shown efficacy. Policymakers and healthcare professionals should take note – cognitive training works, and its time to put it to use.”
The meta-analysis included studies of many different types of cognitive training, including those developed for studies, as well as commercialized programs.
“Studies involving BrainHQ contributed more to this meta-analysis than any other specific type of brain training and helped tip the overall conclusion for the field in a favorable direction,” Mahncke continued. “A number of brain training companies had zero studies, and others had studies with negative results. Our global team of collaborators has made enormous investments in science, and people picking a brain training program should pick one that’s been shown to work.”
More than 100 published studies of the exercises in BrainHQ have shown benefits, including gains in standard measures of cognition (e.g, attention, speed, memory, executive function, social cognition), in standard measure of quality of life (e.g., mood, confidence and control, managing stress, health-related quality of life) and in real world activities (e.g., gait, balance, driving, everyday cognition, the ability to live independently). Recent workplace studies have shown BrainHQ training improved worker efficiency and safety.
BrainHQ is now offered without charge as a benefit by leading national and 5-star Medicare Advantage plans; by the Department of Defense to every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine; and by hundreds of clinics, libraries, and communities. Consumers can try different BrainHQ exercises for free, and all of BrainHQ is available for as little as $8 per month to subscribers.