I’m passing on some practical information. I’ve been looking for something…ANYTHING…that Grace could do to improve her working memory and executive function since that is one of the areas of cognitive decline that people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders face. Lo, I think I found it in the form of Lumosity.com. Lumosity.com is a website, but it’s a bit more than that. Let’s group together the concept of neuroplasticity, which is the idea that the brain can grow new neural networks throughout its life, and the Human Cognition Project (HCP). Couple that with the idea of brain training:
Neuroplasticity can have wide-ranging applications if properly and carefully explored. Researchers have used brain training to rehabilitate patients with brain trauma, chemofog, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and more. But healthy people have also used brain training to sharpen their daily lives and ward off cognitive decline. You, too, can harness the power of neuroplasticity to remember more, think faster, and achieve your full potential in every aspect of life. The benefits may well be endless. Neuroplasticity suggests that anyone can improve their brain, no matter what their age or background. A growing body of research adds more credence to this concept every day. Recently, Dr. Susanne Jaeggi from the University of Michigan found that young adults improved fluid intelligence performance after training with a working memory task called dual n-back (Jaeggi, et al., 2008). Fluid intelligence is the type of dynamic problem-solving that you use when encountering new challenges—it’s what most people mean by “intelligence.” A study of over 2,000 elderly adults in 2002 suggests that even older brains have plenty of room to improve and learn. (Ball, et al., 2002). After 10 hours of training over the course of six weeks, elderly participants gained skills that transferred to real-world abilities —they experienced fewer declines in their ability to perform basic daily activities. And finally, Lumos Labs collaborated with Stanford and San Francisco State University researchers to publish a groundbreaking study showing that healthy adults benefit from web-based cognitive training (Hardy et al., 2011). Participants in this peer-reviewed controlled trial saw 20% improvements in visual attention and 10% improvements in working memory. The body of evidence for neuroplasticity and brain training is constantly growing. For a full picture of HCP research on these topics, see the Research Behind Lumosity.
And, that’s Lumosity.com. What does this mean for Grace? This means that I’ve finally found a resource for combatting the neuroprogression of Grace’s schizophrenia, and, hell, I can use the help myself. Who doesn’t want to improve their own cognitive function? What does this mean for you? If you have ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, fibromyalgia, or anything else that causes your brain to feel “foggy” or distracted, then you could benefit from this website. If you take anticonvulsants, then you could most certainly benefit. Anticonvulsants slow down the brain’s processing so you’ll feel “stupid” particularly if you take Topamax which targets the temporal lobe. Oh, by the way, it’s free–at least in the beginning. You’ll just need to log in, create a very short profile, and you’ll be off and running, training your brain, growing new neural pathways. What’s more, the site charts your progress as you play the games so if you’re keeping track of a child, then you can see how they’re doing over time. It’s brilliant.
Incidentally, research is coming out that doing these very kinds of games is indeed helping people with schizophrenia who struggle with cognitive function issues (“New Possibilities in Cognition Enhancement for Schizophrenia“, Green, Michael F. American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol, 166, No. 7, July 1, 2009.). Don’t you like it when things come together?