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New Patent on Software Games for Depression

August 29, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Posit Science, maker of BrainHQ online brain exercises and assessments, announced that it has been awarded a new patent by the US Patent Office — US Patent Number 10,002,544 “Neuroplasticity games for depression” — for inventions utilizing brain training software to address depressive symptoms.

In recent years, brain training has emerged as a new pathway for treating neurological disorders by harnessing the brain’s plasticity — its natural ability to change chemically, structurally, and functionally. Much of that effort has been pioneered by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Michael Merzenich and his global research network, headquartered at Posit Science.

The inventions covered by the new patent use game-like exercises to give a workout to the neuromodulatory systems in the brain that control mood. These neurochemical-producing systems — driven by attention, novelty, and reward — are down-regulated in depression. The theory behind the inventions is that by engaging these systems through brain exercise, the function of the systems will be strengthened, restoring their normal control over mood.

Typically, drugs for depression work by flooding the brain with a molecule that alters the action of a single, specific neurochemical pathway at all times. Such an approach is not very selective — it does not harness the brain’s natural processes to produce the right amount of the right brain chemicals at the right time.

Plasticity-based brain training is designed to take a very different approach, by exercising the machinery known to stimulate the production of brain chemicals, in an effort to engage systems to produce chemicals on demand, in the instant when required.

The exercises primarily work by demanding that a person pay attention to a series of images, responding to non-targets and withholding a response to targets. This training requires intense attention to the images, causes frequent surprise as unexpected images appear, and delivers frequent rewards as a person gets the answers right.

“This adds to our growing portfolio of patents in the areas of psychiatric disorders and social cognition,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “These inventions underscore that we can use software not just to measure brain performance, but also as a new class of therapeutics that personalize and are completely digitized. We are not just looking at improving function, but at brain health — at both the systemic and cellular levels.”

There are now more than 150 peer-reviewed medical and science journal articles on the benefits of Posit Science exercises and assessments, including more than 70 across varied clinical populations.

Posit Science is the maker of BrainHQ, a web and app-based brain-training program shown to improve standard measures of cognition (speed, attention, memory), quality of life (mood, confidence, health-related quality of life) and real world activities (gait, balance, driving) in healthy adults. As its research advances in clinical indications, Posit Science plans to approach appropriate regulatory agencies to explore the shortest path to getting a form of relevant exercises into the hands of patients who may be helped.

For more information, contact media@brainhq.com.

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