New Study of People with Down Syndrome Combines Physical and Brain Exercise

SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- BrainHQ, the brain training app from Posit Science, will be used alongside physical exercise in a new study of people with Down syndrome. The study aims to measure the impact of physical and cognitive exercise on physical and mental abilities. The study is sponsored by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) and is being led by researchers at Anglia Ruskin University.

“I love that this study directly confronts a prevailing prejudice that — as a genetic condition — the abilities of people with Down syndrome are not susceptible to improvement through physical and brain exercise,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “It’s well-established that physical exercise improves physical abilities, and that brain exercise improves cognitive abilities in most people. There’s no reason to think it’s different among members of the Down syndrome community.”

In a prior small pilot study conducted by researchers at Aristotle University of Greece, researchers announced they found that a 10-week combined protocol of physical exercise and brain training in people with Down syndrome led to a reorganization of the brain and to improved performance on both cognitive and physical measures. The brain training used in the study was the Greek version of BrainHQ. The physical training consisted of aerobic, flexibility, strength, and balance exercises.

Numerous other studies have shown that physical exercise can drive not just physical gains, but also gains on some cognitive measures. Similarly, studies of BrainHQ exercises have shown not just gains on standard cognitive assessments, but also in standard measures of basic physical abilities, including balance, gait, and even heart rate variability.

The study and related the public information campaign organized by FCB Canada are called “Mindsets,” which also is the name of a new app developed for the study — to be used to bring together data from Fitbits measuring physical exercise and from the BrainHQ app, and also to communicate directly with study participants. The study is expected to enroll more than 200 members of the Down syndrome community, organized into four groups: a physical exercise group, a brain exercise group, a combined exercise group, and a control group. Those interested can register at

“This study should provide a lot of answers about the inter-connectiveness of mind and body, as well as the ability of exercise of both kinds to have a significant impact on lives, including those in the Down syndrome community,” said Dr. Mouna Attarha, the lead investigator at BrainHQ for the study. “Aptly named, the study also could cause many to change their ‘mindsets’ about these topics.”

More than 100 studies of BrainHQ training have shown benefits, including improvements in cognitive abilities, quality of life, and real-world activities. BrainHQ is offered, without charge, by leading health plans and by hundreds of libraries and communities. Consumers can try BrainHQ for free at