National Academy of Medicine (NAM): Five-item checklist to determine if a brain-training scheme is reliable.

In 2015, the experts at the National Institute of Medicine (NAM, Washington DC) released a report that included a five-item checklist to determine if a brain-training programme is reliable and proven to be effective. BRINA’s scheme has met all five of these requirements:

Requirement 1: The product has demonstrated transfer of training to other tasks that measure the same cognitive construct as the training task.

BRINA’s programs aim to enhance abilities of attention and executive function through the application of specific cognitive tasks. Our participants demonstrate improvement of performance in these abilities. because they practiced them a lot. But they were assessed also through attention tests which are different from the tasks of the program and have shown improved performance in the trained abilities and not only. It was demonstrated that there was improvement also in memory, visual perception, and language through the process of generalization..

Requirement 2: The product has demonstrated transfer of training relevant to real-world tasks.

The RHEA study has applied BRINA’s Cognitive Motion Therapy. Its aim was to enhance multiple cognitive abilities in addition to daily functioning in people with a diagnosis of multidomain MCI. The results demonstrated improvements in daily function, and these results reported by the families and themselves were consistent with the patient’s improvement on the direct testing of their relevant cognitive skills. More specifically, the participants had better orientation in space after the therapy’s completion. Also, their sense of direction improved when driving or walking. As well as this, the training resulted in improvement with financial skills when purchasing shopping. Their communication skills were also improved. The transfer of the cognitive benefit in real life conditions is due to the fact that our programme uses cognitive tasks recruited from daily life. This is important and it’s a major difference between BRINA and other brain-training programmes.

Requirement 3: The product performance has been evaluated using an active control group whose members have the same expectations of cognitive benefits, as do members of the experimental group. Research on the effectiveness of BRINA’s programmes always include an active control group. For example, one experimental group that attended the programme RHEA (of BRINAS’ programmes) whilst another group participated in an unstructured discussion on current events. Both groups thought they were doing something potentially good for their brain activity. The study showed that people who used RHEA significantly improved cognitive and functional abilities, whilst the active group did not.

Requirement 4: The trained skills are retained longitudinally after the training.

The longest follow-up study so far showed that healthy elderly with Mild Cognitive Impairment maintain the cognitive and functional benefit of the training longitudinally. The patients with mild dementia retain the stabilization of the cognitive and functional performance even after 8-9 years through continuous participation in BRINAS’ programmes.

Requirement 5: The reported benefits of the training product have been replicated by research groups other than those selling the product.

There are several papers showing benefits from using BRINAS’ programmes. Almost all of them were conducted by independent researchers from Alzheimer Hellas and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.