Researchers at Yale published positive results from a pilot study of a novel combination therapy in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment related to Alcohol Use. The therapy used the drug Donepezil in combination with the brain training BrainHQ from Posit Science.
In their report in the journal Substance Abuse, the researchers note that Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) significantly impact public health, cost billions of dollars annually, and are prevalent in Veterans. The Veterans in this study also were diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a pre-dementia condition. AUD contributes to Alzheimer’s risk, and MCI worsens the cognitive abilities for self-regulation — setting the stage for a downward spiral. AUD-related MCI (AUD-MCI) is a medical classification for which there is no evidence-based treatment.
BrainHQ has been used as an intervention in 16 prior studies of MCI and has shown a variety of benefits, including better: cognition (speed, attention, memory, global cognition); neurological health (connectivity in networks governing behavior, thought, and adaptation to stress); physical health (heart rate variability); and day-to-day abilities (instrumental activities of daily living, depressive symptoms).
BrainHQ also has been used in a study of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) by this same team of Yale researchers, who noted that BrainHQ plus traditional work therapy resulted in improved neurocognitive performance and high rates of recovery from SUD.
Donepezil (often under the brand Aricept) is frequently used to treat Alzheimer’s disease (although is is not approved for MCI). Recent pre-clinical research also suggests it might be effective in the treatment of AUD.
This is the first study that has combined BrainHQ with Donepezil.
This pilot involved 11 participants in a 21-day substance abuse day program of the Veterans Administration. Participants were male Veterans with AUD-MCI, 71.5% White, average age of 58.9 years, and an average 42.1-year history of heavy drinking. For 13 weeks, they were administered Donepezil daily and asked to complete a BrainHQ session (of up to an hour), five days per week. Adherence to the protocol was strong, with an average total of 48.4 hours of BrainHQ training.
The researchers reported significant overall cognitive improvements — both within the group (comparing before and after) and when compared to a matched control from a prior study. The improvements were strongest in measures of memory and executive function. The researchers also saw a strong trend in clinical results, with 90.9% of participants showing good clinical recovery on a Clinical Global Impression scale, compared with 59.5% of controls.
“This study nicely brings together two distinct areas of research on BrainHQ — in MCI and SUDs,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, Posit Science CEO, “and also suggests there may be combination drug therapies that could address some difficult-to-treat conditions. We plan to explore further research and clinical opportunities.”
BrainHQ exercises have shown benefits in 100+ studies, and are offered by leading health plans, medical centers, clinics, libraries, and communities. Consumers can try BrainHQ for free at http://www.brainhq.com.