Keep your mind focused with this brain training app


Keep your mind focused with this brain training app

A new brain training app, set to improves users’ concentration, could provide a welcome antidote to the daily distractions that we face in a busy world.

A group of Cambridge university researchers believes to have developed a “fun” solution to this modern problem. By playing a “brain training” game, called Decoder, players can increase their concentration. This success, they claim, has been backed up by scientific tests.

In their book, The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen point out that with the emergence of new technologies requiring rapid responses to emails and texts and working on multiple projects simultaneously, young people, including students, are having more problems with sustaining attention and frequently become distracted. This difficulty in focussing attention and concentrating is made worse by stress from a global environment that never sleeps and also frequent travel leading to jetlag and poor quality sleep.

However, in a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience, Professor Sahakian and colleague Dr George Savulich have demonstrated that playing Decoder on an iPad for eight hours over one month improves attention and concentration. This form of attention activates a frontal-parietal network in the brain.

The researchers divided 75 healthy young adults into three groups: one group received Decoder, one control group played Bingo for the same amount of time and a second control group received no game. Participants in the first two groups were invited to attend eight one-hour sessions over the course of a month during which they played either Decoder or Bingo under supervision.

The Decoder game asks players to detect sequences of numbers, like 2-4-6, 3-5-7, 4-6-8. Using an Indiana Jones or James Bond like theme, the game asks players to decode number sequences which direct them to clues that solve missions.

“Many brain training apps on the market are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence. Our evidence-based game is developed interactively and the games developer, Tom Piercy, ensures that it is engaging and fun to play. The level of difficulty is matched to the individual player and participants enjoy the challenge of the cognitive training,” says Professor Barbara Sahakian from the Department of Psychiatry.

People who played Decoder for eight hours in one month showed significantly better attention than others who played Bingo or no game at all.

The authors say that the difference is comparable to the effects of using stimulants, such as Ritalin – a common medication prescribed as a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.



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