BrainHQ Review

Name: BrainHQ
Brain Training Website:
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How Does BrainHQ Measure Up?


Does BrainHQ Offer Rigorous Training for Brain Health?

According to the Brain HQ website electronic brain gaming confers brain health, but we’d suggest that it is more – Brain Based Skills which are the implied outcome.

That said, we’re a fans of this tool. The big reason is the close to real time adjustment of the game’s challenge level to match your skill level. This means you’re in the” goldilocks zone” for brain change. You’re nudged into the neuroplasticity zone as the level of challenge and intensity is matched to your current, “live”, performance.

Arguably, and backed up by BrainHQ, this is the right zone for brain change to occur and is the basis of how these games work.

“Brain plasticity is a common term used by neuroscientists, referring to the brain’s ability to change at any age—for better or worse. As you might imagine, this flexibility plays an incredibly important role in our brain development (or decline)” BrainHQ

What is BrainHQ

BrainHQ is a series of brain-training exercises that you do online on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

“BrainHQ is an online brain-training system that represents the culmination of 30 years of research in neurological science and related medicine. It was designed by an international team of neuroscientists, led by Michael Merzenich—a professor emeritus in neurophysiology, member of the National Academy of Sciences, co-inventor of the cochlear implant, and Kavli Prize laureate.”

Compensating Versus Brain Changes

You’d no doubt be familiar with compensation strategies. In David’s work with clients over the years he has had to apply these compensatory strategies to help people with mild to moderate memory impairment and can include:

  • Notes
  • Diary use
  • Checklist
  • Environmental triggers to remember or do certain tasks
  • Develop home / life systems and routines

What BrainHQ is working with is brain plasticity. BrainHq reports it goes to the “root cause” of brain decline by targeting memory, speed of processing and fluid intelligence. How does the brain change, according to BrainHQ, it does so by serving you challenges which target these brain based skills.

The Basis of How BrainHQ Exercises Work

The BrainHQ exercises are designed to improve the brain networks which are linked to supporting cognitive performance and real-world function. Whilst the games differ in their objectives there are a number of consistent objectives across all of them:

  1. Improve cognitive speed
  2. Improve accuracy of recall and identification
  3. Sustained adaptation: the game adjust real time to meet you at your brain change threshold being 60- 80% correct answers. So you’ll find it “Not Too Easy- Not Too Hard But Just Right” ( sound familiar)
  4. Over time the program builds in complexity and makes it more “real world”

Work Out Your Brain

Improve Your Brain Performance 30 Day Program

If you’re looking to improve your brain we cover the specifics of brain training and what exercises to do in our “Work Out Your Brain- Improve Your Brain Performance 30 Day Program. If you’re interested in this,

The Evidence

BrainHQ reports that it’s programs have been involved in a number of randomised controlled trials as well as supported by peer review articles. Perhaps the most prominent study the games were used in was the ACTIVE Study. The results of the study showed the link between brain training and

  • An increase in auditory processing speed by 135%
  • An, on average, doubling of visual processing speed
  • A 5 and 10 year follow up of study participants showed that in those people who did the brain exercises had better cognitive performance than those who didn’t

Transparency is big requirement for us as it allows you to consider the basis of their claims. Here is the link to the BrainHQ Evidence Page with regards to backing up their claims.

Are There Guidelines For Brain Training and if So How Does BrainHQ Measure Up?

In 2015, experts at the National Academy of Medicine released a report on guidelines for brain training and in it included a five-item checklist to use to determine if a brain-training program is scientifically proven. BrainHQ meets these minimum requirements.

Specifically these 5 Items are:

  1. Has the product demonstrated transfer of training to other laboratory tasks that measure the same cognitive construct as the training task (e.g., if some aspect of memory is being targeted in the product, is transfer demonstrated to other memory tasks)?
  2. Has the product demonstrated transfer of training to relevant real-world tasks?
  3. Has the product performance been evaluated using an active control group whose members have the same expectations of cognitive benefits as do members of the experimental group?
  4. How long are the trained skills retained?
  5. Have the purported benefits of the training product been replicated by research groups other than those selling the product?

Citation:”4C Risk and Protective Factors and Interventions: General Cognitive Aging Interventions and Next Steps.” Institute of Medicine. 2015.

This is a good start but it misses some further requirements which we feel are necessary for example.

Benchmarking and Tracking

Where are you against your peers? What is your day to day performance using BrainHQ and is it getting better? These are extremely helpful performance measurements to keep nudging your performance gains in the right direction.

Note: BrainHQ uses a dual metric of age group and percentile rank to track your performance. Note that this dual metric will not be a useful comparison measure outside of the Posit Science BrainHQ program environment so it can be used to compare with other programs or standardised test for that matter.

What it Misses

The Dual N Back exercise: The work of Jaeggi-Buschkuehl, the dual n-back task, is a rather challenging working memory test that contains both visual and auditory cues. Working memory is the ability to hold useful information (new phone numbers, the next steps in a complex task, etc) in your “active” memory.

This skill is very important for new learning and awareness. This exercise is lacking in BrainHQ and we would encourage this to be considered in future developments.

Our Experience of Using BrainHQ

Well in short we have found this to be a positive tool for people to use.

Our experience with it is that the novelty factor wears off after a while and so there is a ceiling one may experience with it. 60 to 90 days is optimum most of our community have experienced it for. After that a booster program is recommended.

It’s clear brain training is not the “one magic bullet” that many had hoped for in addressing cognitive decline.

BrainHQ has it usefulness in the mix of other memory health factors and is also our favoured tool for brain training applications.

No doubt there will be others out there as well, but, for the transparency of data, the research use and also the base level compliance with emerging guidelines if you’re going to start to explore brain training, this would be a good place to start.

You can try before you buy with seeing a sample of the games. This however is more of a look and see what the games are as opposed to the full platform of benefits. They occasionally offer seasonal discounts so it may be worth jumping on their mailing list.

How To Get BrainHQ

You can learn more about BrainHQ by clicking here.

Work Out Your Brain

Improve Your Brain Performance 30 Day Program

If you’re looking to improve your brain we cover the specifics of brain training and what exercises to do in our “Work Out Your Brain- Improve Your Brain Performance 30 Day Program. If you’re interested in this,