The IHAMS Study

BrainHQ Brain Training Program Outperforms Crossword Puzzles

The IHAMS study was the first study to prove that brain training was more effective for improving cognitive performance than doing crossword puzzles. The IHAMS study was led by principal investigator Dr. Fred Wolinsky from the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa and was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Designed to overcome the limitations of the ACTIVE study which included participants aged 65 and older, the IHAMS study included younger participants (ages 50+) in order to generate a more accurate comparison.

How was the study conducted?

The IHAMS study included 681 participants who were divided randomly into four groups:

  • Group 1: Speed of Processing and Useful Field of View
    The first group engaged in 10 hours of onsite Posit Science brain training exercises that focused on speed of processing and useful field of view (Double Decision exercise in BrainHQ). 
  • Group 2: Booster Training
    The second group performed the same brain training exercises as the first group but also took part in four hours of “booster” training 11 months into the study.
  • Group 3: Crossword Puzzles
    The third group performed 10 hours of crossword puzzle activities and were monitored in a clinical setting.
  • Group 4: Brain Training at Home
    The fourth group performed brain training from the comfort of their own home on their PC. These participants were allowed to do the exercises in their leisure.

Participants were assessed prior to the study commencing, at 6 to 8 weeks into the study, and then again at 12 months. This helped to show the progress of each participant over the length of the study.

The Goals of the Study

While the IHAMS study had a few goals, the primary objective was to determine whether or not brain training was a superior method for improving cognitive performance than doing crossword activities. "There has been debate in the scientific community regarding how well brain training works versus other recreational mental activities, such as learning a new language or doing crossword puzzles," said Dr. Fred Wolinsky, John W. Colloton Chair in Health Management and Policy, University of Iowa and lead author of the study. “This study clearly demonstrates that the use of specially constructed exercises for the purpose of brain fitness – such as the speed-of-processing exercises in BrainHQ – not only work, they are far more effective at improving cognitive function than other games or recreational activities."

Posit Science Training Leads to Superior Results

The study showed that Posit Science brain training exercises were far superior than crosswords for improving cognitive functions and abilities. In fact, the brain training exercises yielded much higher results on several standard neuropsychological tests of cognitive functioning as opposed to doing crosswords. Furthermore, improvements were noted in as little as 8 weeks and the improvements were sustained over a 12 month period. The same positive results were achieved in participants that exercised in the clinical setting as those who performed the exercises at home and the benefits from brain training were just as large with younger participants as it was with older participants. These results indicate that it is most beneficial to start brain training as soon as possible to maximize your cognitive improvements and get the most out of your brain training!