Computerized Brain Training for Well-Being in Veterans

Computerized Brain Training for Well-Being in Veterans

(VA-funded and conducted by the VA Palo Alto Health Care System)

Individuals that have experienced very stressful life events often develop symptoms of anxiety and depression as a result of trauma.   Veterans, who are often exposed to life-threatening and extremely stressful events, have higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems than civilians.  Difficulty controlling intense emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness can affect concentration and memory, which can lead to impairment in work, school, and general daily activities.

Our aim with this study is to explore computer-based exercises to improve cognitive functioning and emotional processing in veterans with trauma-related mental health symptoms (such as worry, fear, sadness, and anger).

We hope that these computer exercises, which are easy to implement and available to a wide range of veterans, will become a viable option to augment treatment for trauma-related disorders, such as PTSD.

How can I participate?

Please visit our website, to complete a survey to assess your eligibility.

You can also contact us at (650) 725-9510 or at

What is involved in the study?

After completing an online consent form and brief screening questions you will complete a 45-minute survey about your mental health and overall well-being as well as a 40-minute online cognitive assessment.

After completion of the online surveys, you will be invited to complete a phone or video interview with a member of our research team to further assess your current mental health symptoms.

You will then have access to daily computer exercises (i.e. games to improve cognitive functioning and well-being) that you will complete for 45 minutes each day for 45 days. You will also answer brief questions about your mood and sleep before you log in to complete the daily exercises.

Once you complete the 45 days of computer exercises you will be invited to participate in a second phone or video interview with a member of our research team to assess any changes in your symptoms.

We are looking for: 
  • Veterans who have experienced an extremely stressful or life-threatening event.
  • And are experiencing difficulty with strong emotions (anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety).
  • Veterans who have daily access to a computer, mouse, and a reliable internet connection.
  • Native English speakers.
  • Veterans who are NOT in weekly counseling or psychotherapy.


Do I have to come in to a lab for any appointments?
No, the study procedures are completed entirely from your home.

What if I am taking a medication, such as an antidepressant?
It is OK to be on medication while in our study, as long as the medication stays consistent throughout your participation.

What if I haven’t been diagnosed with PTSD or another mental health disorder?
You do not need to have been diagnosed with PTSD or any mental health disorder in order to participate. But we are looking for veterans who are experiencing bothersome symptoms related to having experienced a trauma.

What is the online cognitive assessment like?
The assessment takes approximately 40 minutes and involves tasks to measure attention, memory, problem-solving, and other similar cognitive domains.

Will I be paid for my participation?
Yes, veterans can earn up to $250 for completing the study.