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Cognitive Fitness Patient
December 12, 2019

Brain Matters: Our Cognitive Fitness Studio and the Science Behind It

by Sarah McEwen, PhD

Pacific Brain Health’s Cognitive Fitness (CogFit) Studio was featured in the Santa Monica Star, October 2019. The Physical & Cognitive Health Program is one of the many programs that the Pacific Brain Health Center offers to improve cognitive function in healthy older adults and furthermore in individuals with memory complaints, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Read the full article below.

Cognitive Fitness Studio at Pacific Brain Health Center

Imagine that when you went to visit your doctor, instead of prescribing a long list of medications with hefty side-effects to help your brain health condition, you got a prescription for an exercise class.

This is now becoming a reality, as physical activity interventions are becoming a well- established non-pharmacological, non-invasive, affordable and low-risk option for the treatment and management of almost all late-life mood and cognitive disorders.

This summer, the Pacific Brain Health Center (PBHC) in partnership with Providence Saint John’s Health Center opened an exercise Cognitive Fitness Studio, the CogFit Studio, which is designed first and foremost to train your brain and improve the overall health of your body and your brain. This innovative “brain gym” combines physical activity and cognitive stimulation with the focus of improving a patient’s cognition in a program developed from David Merrill, MD, PhD, PBHC Director and my own cognitive psychology research.

The Science behind CogFit

Previous clinical research has shown that the combination of different types of physical and mental training techniques, has the ability to improve and restore compromised brain functioning better than singular training modalities alone, such as only aerobic exercise or neurocognitive skills training.

In our pilot study, called the “Simultaneous Aerobic and Memory Training (SIM) study, we tested the theory that simultaneously combining aerobic and mental exercise helps people’s brain function better. In the study, a test group engaged in aerobic exercise on a stationary bike as they learned cognitive skills, while a control group learned the cognitive skills after the aerobic exercise. The result? After 4 weeks of training the participants in the test group showed greater improvements in memory performance than the control group, showing that the SIM intervention delivers benefit that is greater than the sum of its parts.

What happens during a CogFit class?

At CogFit, each unique session is designed primarily to simultaneously train reasoning, attention and memory through a technology-enhanced physical movement circuit style class.

Patients are paired one-on-one with a CogFit coach for personal brain training sessions or in a small, group-based class for a mental and physical 50-minute exercise class that includes circuit stations focused on cardiovascular, resistance, motor skill and mindful movement training. Within each station, patients will typically be doing a physically demanding task (e.g., riding an exercise bike), while also doing a cognitive task (e.g., counting backwards by 3s).

Training sessions at the CogFit Studio are still in beta-testing and only for patients seeking clinical care at the PBHC. If you are interested in being a volunteer for beta-testing and becoming a patient at PBHC, please contact CogFit class instructor Lesley Bell, NSCA-CPT, who works hand-in-hand with PBHC patients to deliver this leading edge cognitive fitness programming.

Pacific Neuroscience Brain Health Center

We strive to help people improve their overall physical and mental health through our Physical & Cognitive Health Program at the Pacific Brain Health Center. We provide a comprehensive approach to care in order to optimize cognitive fitness.

For more information, schedule a consultation at Pacific Brain Health Center or call at 310-582-7641.

Article Source: Santa Monica Star October 2019 Edition, pg 2
Banner image: Brain coach Ryan Glatt and Dr. Sarah McEwen with a CogFit patient at the Pacific Brain Health Center

About the Author

Sarah McEwen headshot

Sarah McEwen, PhD

Sarah McEwen, PhD, NSCA-CPT, is a Cognitive Psychologist and the Director of Research & Programming at the Pacific Brain Health Center. Her specialty is the study of physical activity and cognitive enhancement interventions to investigate biological, behavioral and health-related outcomes in patients suffering from cognitively debilitating disorders.

Last updated: March 23rd, 2020