A new brain training app developed by a team of neuroscientists from Cambridge University may help to counter the symptoms of cognitive decline typically found in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and mental disorders like dementia.
Named ‘Game Show’, the memory game app tasks players with correctly associating geometric patterns with different locations, with players winning gold coins for every correct answer.
Each correct answer allows the player to win more gold coins and the game continues until it is completed or six incorrect attempts are made.
The game also adapts to the player’s level of skill and will present them with a higher number of geometric patterns as they progress, helping to keep the player motivated.
The team of neuroscientists randomly assigned 42 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) to either play ‘Game Show’ for a total of eight one-hour sessions over a month or to continue with their ususal clinic visits.
Amnestic mild cognitive impairment is recognised as a transitional stage between natural ageing and dementia with symptoms that include problems with day-to-day memory and motivation.
The patients who played the game over the four week period displayed a 40 percent improvement in their memory scores, in addition to reporting that they enjoyed playing the game and felt motivated to complete the eight hours of total play.
Speaking about the positive effects of the game, Professor Barbara Sahakian, co-inventor of the game said:
‘Good brain health is as important as good physical health. There’s increasing evidence that brain training can be beneficial for boosting cognition and brain health, but it needs to be based on sound research and developed with patients… It also needs to be enjoyable enough to motivate users to keep to their programmes. Our game allowed us to individualise a patient’s cognitive training programme and make it fun and enjoyable for them to use.’
As technology improves our lives in countless areas, it makes sense to think that it could be used to counter neurodegenerative diseases and give people who suffer from such conditions a better chance at living a normal life.
Hopefully we’ll see more advances in this field in the near future.