Professor Henry Brodaty
UNSW, Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing Institute
18 September 2018

Maintain Your Brain is a randomised controlled trial of multiple online interventions designed to target modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Affecting approximately 46 million people worldwide, dementia remains one of the greatest health challenges that we face as a global community.Available medicines have been successful in slowing the progression of symptoms, but not at stopping progression in its entirety. In the absence of a cure, the team at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) have turned their attention to the prevention of dementia through their ground breaking ‘Maintain Your Brain’ (MYB) program. Lead Chief Investigator, Professor Henry Brodaty describes the program as a ‘world first’.

‘Maintain Your Brain is the largest trial ever to test whether an internet program over the course of three years can protect your brain functions,’ said Professor Brodaty.

The study will deliver an internet guide for approximately 8,000 participants, recruited through the 45 and Up Study at the Sax Institute, with tailored modules addressing each person’s individual risk factors. Modules include physical exercise, diet and nutrition, brain training and stress management. Significantly, MYB is the only study to date that directly addresses depression as a risk factor in the development of dementia.

Participants can log on from home in their own time and have direct access to support and assistance. The program utilises novel methods to tackle key risk factors in middle age, including using computer-based games for learning and brain activity. The internet delivery method also represents a big step in terms of accessibility; with a clear path to a national rollout should it prove successful.

‘The MYB team has worked hard to make the IT platform user-friendly yet sophisticated enough to deliver a program specific for each person’s risk factors. Participants will receive regular feedback to encourage continued participation and use state-of-the-art technology to monitor their cognitive performance over the three years of the trial,’ said Professor Brodaty.

Now at the two-year mark, the MYB research team has successfully developed the required infrastructure to deliver the program, selected participants for pilot studies, and refined each intervention module. Since MYB started recruiting in late June, over 11,000 people have registered as of August 2018. The first 2,300 participants have entered the trial; recruitment continues.

Funded under the Boosting Dementia Initiative, MYB represents a large-scale collaborative effort between CHeBA, UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Western Sydney University and Monash University. Dementia advocate Ita Buttrose is a patron of the Maintain Your Brain study.

1Global Impact of Dementia Report from Alzheimer’s Disease International.