How to promote good brain health | Professor Barbara Sahakian

Professor Barbara Sahakian explains her work leveraging the neural basis of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural dysfunction to promote good brain function throughout life.

Digital technology has huge potential to improve brain health in both healthy patients and people with neurobiological problems. Professor Sahakian outlines her work using game apps on iPads or mobile phones to improve cognition in elderly patients with the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease and patients with schizophrenia. Digital interventions are also proving promising for phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), through a combination of game apps and virtual reality training.

Professor Sahakian also explains how she has collaborated with gaming companies to make cognitive training more fun for participants – so increasing their motivation, and making them more likely to participate and gain the associated benefits around activating neural circuity in the brain and altering neurotransmitters. Cognitive training is therefore entering the field of personalised medicine, with different difficulties for each person.

She also outlines how other interventions, such as exercise, can be used to improve cognition, mood and physical health and should be introduced in childhood and maintained throughout life.

Professor Barbara J Sahakian FBA FMedSci is Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge.

This talk was given as part of the the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Symposium: Behaviour change to improve health for all

This symposium was co-hosted by the US National Academy of Medicine and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.

Find out more about the US National Academy of Medicine


The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science. Our mission is to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society.

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