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Science AMA Series: I’m Dr. Henry Mahncke, neuroscientist and CEO, here today to talk about brain training, and the recent independent research showing that our specific type of brain training can significantly reduce the risk of dementia. AMA!
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First and foremost, full disclosure: I am the CEO of Posit Science, which is a company that develops BrainHQ, a brain training program. I joined Posit Science at its inception because I believed it was essential to form a company to help the basic science of brain plasticity become an applied science that could improve human lives. I am also a neuroscientist by training, earning my Ph.D. from UCSF in the lab of recent Kavli Prize Laureate Dr. Michael Merzenich, who was (and still is!) a pioneer in the discovery and characterization of adult brain plasticity. You may have seen his recent AMA here. Today, join me to talk about a recent paper – hot off the (digital) press – showing that speed of processing training – a specific type of brain training – uniquely and significantly reduces the risk of healthy adults going on to dementia. This is the first randomized controlled trial of any intervention – pharmaceutical, physical exercise, mindfulness, or nutrition – to show an effect on the risk of dementia. These results come from the ACTIVE study, an NIH-funded multi-site trial, and is authored by independent researchers, including Drs. Jerri Edwards and Fred Unverzagt from the University of South Florida and Indiana University. I’ve worked with both Dr. Edwards and Dr. Unverzagt, and I’m very familiar with the ACTIVE study in general and these results in particular. Check out the paper here and ask me anything! About the ACTIVE study, dementia, the field of brain training as a whole, what near transfer/far transfer/generalization really means, my favorite aspects of clinical trial design and analysis (handling missing data, of course), brain plasticity, and video games. Or take a left turn and ask me about being ranked silver in Overwatch (the struggle is real), your and my favorite vermouths and amari, what it’s like to go from academia to the private sector, and the best burrito in San Francisco. Proof Edit: Hi folks - thanks for all the great questions about brain training - how it works, what’s been shown, and who it can help. It was really fun to talk about these issues with you. I’ll keep an eye on the AMA for the rest of today and tomorrow, and answer any further questions that get posted.