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Effects of Online Brain Training on Self-Reported Mental Health Symptoms for Generally Healthy Adults During COVID-19

A smiling young woman engages in online SMART training on her home computer.

Brain and Behavior

Sarah A. Laane, Lori G. Cook, Jeffrey S. Spence, Michelle N. Harris and Sandra Bond Chapman

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Conducted amid the escalating mental health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, this study analyzes data from 145 generally healthy adults participating in The BrainHealth Project.Participants engaged in 12 weeks of online, self-paced Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Tactics (SMART™) training and used the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) to self-report symptoms of anxiety and depression pre- and post-training. Following online SMART training, participants showed improvements in depression, anxiety and stress, evidenced by self-reported symptoms on the DASS-21. Participants who repeated the DASS-21 six months post-training also reported maintained or continued improvements in mental health symptomatology. Researchers observe no significant effect of gender in this study, but findings motivate additional research into how education and age may influence the impact of SMART training. At this time, findings suggest that SMART provides a low-cost, high-impact way to support public mental health among generally healthy adults.
Figure 4: Change in Depression Pre to Post SMART.

Figure 3. Statically significant decrease in self-reported symptoms of depression (p < .001), anxiety (p = .011), and stress (p < .001).

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Lori Cook, PhD, CCC-SLP

Director of Clinical Research Head of Research, The BrainHealth Project Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Jeffrey S. Spence, PhD

Director of Biostatistics

Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD

Chief Director Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project

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