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Posted 10/16/2023

Breakthrough Study: Alzheimer’s Patients Benefit from Lifestyle Coaching, Not Drugs

Breakthrough Study: Alzheimer’s Patients Benefit from Lifestyle Coaching, Not Drugs

A study just published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that pre-dementia and Alzheimer’s patients who received lifestyle coaching (including in using computerized brain exercises) derived cognitive benefit not generally seen in studies of Alzheimer’s drugs. The brain exercises used in the study were from the BrainHQ brain training app, developed and marketed by Posit Science.

“While prior studies with BrainHQ have looked at the prevention of dementia in older adults, the , and at , to my knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial looking at the impact of BrainHQ training in people diagnosed with pre-dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease,” observed Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “This study took a coached multimodal approach, similar to what was used in the Worldwide FINGER studies, but in people who already have a pre-dementia or an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The results show better post-intervention performance at both memory and functional measures than the control, making a strong argument for changing our standard of care.”

In this prospective randomized controlled trial, called Coaching for Cognition in Alzheimer’s (COCOA), conducted by the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, researchers compared two cohorts of patients – one made up of 24 participants who received standard care, the other made up of 31 participants who received standard care plus telephonic personalized coaching for lifestyle intervention. The study was funded by Providence St. Joseph Health as part of the health system’s Alzheimer’s Translational Pillar.

“Over a two-year period, our trial showed that personalized lifestyle coaching in addition to standard of care decreases the amount of cognitive decline in patients on the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum,” said ISB Senior Research Scientist Dr. Jared Roach, who led the trial. “This is evidence that personalized coaching focused on diet, exercise, brain training and other lifestyle factors should be part of the first line of dementia care and prevention.”

The study results showed that at the end of the 2-year intervention, the participants in the coaching intervention had significantly better performance (by 2.1 points on average) on 

the Memory Performance Index (MPI) compared to controls and showed significantly slower deterioration in Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scores.

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