Cognitive assessment and training
Cognitive training is aimed at maintaining or improving a person’s abilities through brain stimulation, therefore acting on brain plasticity and increasing the number of neural connections.
Neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change throughout a person’s life, is an extremely important process, since it defines cognitive development and shapes people’s personalities. It is generally assumed that such changes can only occur during childhood and adolescence when individuals are always learning new things and having many different experiences, while entering adulthood is associated with the onset of cognitive decline. However, research has shown that under the right circumstances and with appropriate stimuli, even the adult brain can grow, taking advantage of its plasticity and counteracting its inevitable decline. There are scientifically structured programs that focus on various cognitive areas and improve brain function. These protocols train people to perform certain specific “mental acts” during a task, so that they can then get used to performing them unconsciously in everyday life situations. After assessing the initial level, thanks to these non-invasive, scientifically proven solutions, work can be carried out in a targeted manner on neuronal plasticity mechanisms with protocols that can be adapted to each person’s abilities. Here are some examples.
BrainHQ is a brain training platform developed following 30 years of research conducted by Prof. Michael Merzenich, a US neuroscientist at the University of California at San Francisco. The exercises offered are entertaining, but they can also be difficult. They are designed to provide each subject with useful and meaningful training in different areas: attention, cognitive speed, memory, social skills, navigation, and intelligence. By using a special algorithm, each exercise adapts to the difficulties of the person performing it in order to always train users optimally, in the areas where they are most likely to improve their performance. (see Figure 1)
Witty SEM Smart Semaphore
Witty SEM is a smart traffic light capable of managing different symbols and colours and, thanks also to the proximity sensor it contains, is the ideal solution for planning and managing specific work on cognitive-motor skills in the best possible way. Thanks to this device, some of the exercises featured in BRAIN HQ can be performed in a three-dimensional reality that allows cognitive and motor tasks to be performed simultaneously, providing greater stimulation.
Figure 2 The photo shows a subject performing one of the cognitive training exercises implemented in Witty SEM
Figure 3 The photo shows a subject performing a dual task exercise with Witty SEM for cognitive training and Gyko, which monitors balance and stability.
Witty SEM, also used in combination with Optogait and Gyko, is useful to offer dual task exercises. “Dual tasking” involves performing an active movement and a mental task, such as walking and talking, at the same time. Many elderly people find it difficult to cope with this type of situation on a daily basis, since their cognitive reserves have decreased with age. In some cases, the inability to perform a motor task when attention is drawn to a cognitive stimulus can pose a threat to physical safety, for example by increasing the risk of falling. This is why it is important to maintain a high level of performance in dual tasking, through targeted and continuous training.
 M. M. Merzenich, T. M. Van Vleet, and M. Nahum, “Brain plasticity-based therapeutics,” Front. Hum. Neurosci., vol. 8, 2014, doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00385.
 C. D. Gilbert, W. Li, and V. Piech, “Perceptual learning and adult cortical plasticity,” J. Physiol., vol. 587, no. Pt 12, pp. 2743–2751, Jun. 2009, doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.171488.