Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

How to Improve Your Cognition and Have Fun at the Same Time (Giveaway)

How do you know if the cognitive issues you’re experiencing are a sign of aging or are the result of an illness? Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You can’t remember a word you’re searching for.
  • You forgot the name of a book you read last month.
  • The name of someone you recently met escapes you.
  • You have trouble processing information.

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According to the Cleveland Clinic:

“Almost all of us become aware of changes in memory and cognition (thinking) as we get older. We begin to have difficulty recalling names of people and places, notice that our mental processing has slowed, and that learning is more difficult. We find that certain functions (for example, eye-hand coordination) are also slower.”

According to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) more than half of those living with MS develop problems with cognition, and in some cases it’s someone’s first symptom. Here are a few that are most likely to be affected:

  • Information processing (dealing with information gathered by the five senses)
  • Memory (acquiring, retaining and retrieving new information)
  • Attention and concentration (particularly divided attention)
  • Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
  • Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
  • Verbal fluency (word-finding)

As a writer and someone in her late fifties I look for ways to keep my cognitive skills intact.

I’m a voracious reader, and in my work I stretch my brain power by researching unfamiliar medical terms. I play several games of Words with Friends, but I’d like to find some new brain games.

That’s why I was thrilled to hear from the people at Posit Science who directed my attention to a recent study by researchers at NYU’s Langone Medical Center about BrainHQ, an online brain-training game that was created to test memory, focus, attention and much more.  

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Photo Credit: BrainHQ

The study consisted of 135 patients who were assigned randomly to either brain-training or computer games and trained for an hour a day, five days a week for 12 weeks. While both groups were found to improve in overall cognitive measure, the brain-training group had nearly three times the gain as the computer games group.

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Photo Credit: BrainHQ

The study went a step further by asking patients to self-assess improvement in cognition performance. The brain-training group reported 56.7 percent improvement compared to the computer games group’s 31 percent.  

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Photo Credit: BrainHQ

The study was published in Plos One Neurology in an article titled “Cognitive Function in Multiple Sclerosis Improves with Telerehabilitation: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial.” It is believed to be the largest study to measure the impact of brain training on cognition in MS patients.

“This trial demonstrates that computer-based cognitive remediation accessed from home can be effective in improving cognitive symptoms for individuals with MS,” said Leigh Charvet, PhD, the study’s lead author.

“The remote delivery of an at-home test and findings of cognitive benefit may also be generalizable to other neurological conditions in which cognitive function is compromised.”

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OMG! That’s such great news!

I spoke to Henry Mahncke, PhD, and CEO of Posit Science, whose excitement about BrainHQ was evident over the telephone. He was proud that BrainHQ found a way to increase processing skills and memory by taking science out of the lab and into the homes of patients.

Dr. Mahncke added that he hopes there’ll be a time when doctors and nurses point their patients to BrainHQ as a way to improve brain function. This recent study has brought his dream closer to fruition.

“We are encouraged by this publication of results by independent researchers in yet another clinical population,” said Mahncke. “With the assistance of other researchers and investors, these results will play a part in our plan to bring digital therapies to market after obtaining appropriate regulatory approvals.”

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Photo Credit: BrainHQ

You can learn more about BrainHQ here. Their games are easy to manipulate and fun to play. Giving your brain a regular workout is a gift you give yourself. So keep your brain active and give it a try!

I’m thrilled to offer 5 readers full access to BrainHQ for one year! To enter leave a comment below. Contest ends at midnight on August 1st. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, August 2.

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I’m thrilled to be nominated for a Patient Leader Award from WEGO Health. Please take a moment to ENDORSE me, then scroll down the page and click the ENDORSE button. Winning would help me spread the work I do for the MS community to a wider audience. Thank you!!

 

(NOTE: A portion of this blog post was previously published in my column, Making a Difference, at Multiple Sclerosis News Today.)

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18 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Cognition and Have Fun at the Same Time (Giveaway)

  1. Victoria Alexander

    Cathy, I am hopeful in entering to win Brain Training Exercises. I lost my insurance coverage for Cognitive Therapy as well as Physical and Occupational Therapies January 1st, 2017. Insurance no longer covered my therapies. I had completed one module of Cognitive Studies and was just beginning the much needed module on ‘Memory’. Cognition is my most significant daily struggle. Thank you for this opportunity to enter.
    Sincerely,
    Victoria Alexander

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I hope you win, Victoria! I am sorry about your insurance coverage. I know how hard that is. I really do. Thanks for sharing your story. Always wonderful hearing from you. Please know I am always, always in your corner, dear friend.

      Cathy

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman

    When I read your first four bullet points I thought, yes, yes, yes, yes, I think we now realize that our brains need to be exercised as well as our bodies as we grow older. I am impressed with the cognitive progress users of this game reported. This is great news, Cathy! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  3. Katherine Minden

    I constantly learn new things. I don’t remember them all! Studying is much harder than it once was, but I work at it daily and it does help.

  4. Miriam Hendeles

    I can so relate to this, Cathy! I tend to have words at the tip of my tongue and then get frustrated!

    I do crossword puzzles, trivia games, and study music….and this brainHQ sounds fascinating.

    Your writing is impeccable (there! Is that a good word? Lol). I will do whatever you, Cathy are doing!!
    Miriam Hendeles recently posted…Farewell to Challah: An Open LetterMy Profile

  5. Denise Muller

    How wonderful! I do grasp for words at times. I play many games but as we age or deal with an illness such as MS- this is so important . I am glad I read this . It has been a tough month – going bankruot etc . Here is something positive – to help me move forward. Thank-you.

  6. Nora

    This sounds like a great idea. The lapse of memory that occurs as we age is frustrating, but it’s helpful to know that we are not alone and that there are tools out there to help stem the progress of forgetfulness.

  7. Carol A Cassara

    I really could use this, BUT am a little afraid.. I was in a long term study and took regular tests…the thing beeped when I had a wrong answer and that always kind of freaked me out!

  8. janet tancredi

    I appreciate your wealth of information. I get educated through the knowledge you provide! You have my nomination! Tank you!

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