NEW PUBLICATION: A randomised feasibility study of computerised cognitive training as a therapeutic intervention for people with Huntington’s disease (CogTrainHD)

Publications are often seen as the ‘bread and butter’ of academic life. Personally, I think that there is a lot more to academic life than publishing research, but nonetheless, I was delighted to find out that the results of my most recent study had been accepted for publication in Pilot and Feasibility Studies.

For a more thorough discussion of publishing academic research in peer reviewed journals, please see my other blog post Publishing in Academic Journals but for now, back to this blog post.

The publication that I am discussing here is the main publication that I have produced from 4 years of work during my Fellowship funded through the Welsh Government by Health and Care Research Wales. The study was titled ‘A randomised feasibility study of computerised cognitive training as a therapeutic intervention for people with Huntington’s disease (CogTrainHD)’ and it looked to explore whether computer game brain training was feasible for people living with Huntington’s disease.

For more general info on brain training and whether it might be useful in Huntington’s disease have a read of Huntington’s Disease: how brain training games could help but my most recent publication reports the findings and conclusions from my work.

So, what did we find? Well, I asked people with Huntington’s disease to play brain training games for 3 x 30 minute sessions a week and then interviewed them along with friends and family about how they found it. The results of the study showed that despite committing to 3 x 30 minute sessions of braining training a week at the beginning of the study, relatively few participants were able to fulfill this commitment. That means that the results of the study are difficult to interpret because the number of people who played the games adequately is small. But, this was a small scale feasbility study, the questions that we were most interested in were ‘will people play the games and if so what will they think?’

It turned out that there was a real variety in answers to the question of ‘would people play the games?’ some people did, some did sometimes and some not at all. But of those people who did play the games, some reported benefits and enjoyment and there were no harms as a result of completing the brain training. We didn’t think that there would be any harms, but it was nice to confirm what we thought. These are really important findings, as before we can take this research forward, we need to determine what caused the variation that we saw in adherence or people sticking to the regime of playing the computer games. We also need to explore what makes people engage with playing the games and what we can do to help them engage more.

It was a privilege to undertake this research and  I would like to thank all of my collaborators as well as the participants and family members who volunteered to take part in the study. The study simply would not have been possible without you.

If you would like to view the full text of the publication, you can access it here.


Photo by Matt Wojtaś on Unsplash

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