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UK Scientists Develop New Game to Improve Concentration

UK Scientists Develop New Game to Improve Concentration

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019 - 06:30
The augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo taken in Palm Springs, California, July 11, 2016. Sam Mircovich/Reuters
Cairo - Hazem Badr
Researchers at Cambridge University's clinical neuropsychology institute announced that they successfully tested a new electronic game dubbed "Decoder" aimed at improving concentration.

The team of researchers sought to address this problem through an electronic game that has become available on smartphones. In a study published Tuesday in the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience magazine, scientists wrote that practicing in the new game for eight hours within one month improves attention and concentration, as it stimulates the brain's frontal lobe.

For the study, they recruited 75 young people who were divided into three groups: one group played Decoder, another played Bingo and the third group received no game.

The participants were then tested at the beginning of the month and after its end with the Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVP) test, to measure their attention and concentration. The results showed that the adults who played Decoder showed an improvement in attention compared to those who played Bingo and the group that didn’t play any games. In fact, the performance divergence was significant, and comparable to the effects of stimulants such as Nicotine and Ritalin, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

During the game, users saw an inaccurate order of numbers, and were asked to click on the screen when detecting a combination that helps promoting the "flow", for example (2 - 4 - 6, 3 - 5 - 7, 4 - 6 – 8).

"Decoder should help healthy people improve their ability to concentrate and avoid some attention problems. The game is also beneficial for patients who have impairments in attention, including those with ADHD or traumatic brain injury. We plan to start a study with traumatic brain injury patients this year," the study’s lead author, Dr. George Savulich, said in a report published on the university's website.

"Many brain training apps on the market are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence. However, our game was based on scientific study and that what characterizes it," he added.

The game has now been licensed through Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer arm of the University of Cambridge, to app developer Peak, who specialize in evidence-based 'brain training' apps.

Peak has developed a version for Apple devices and released the app on Tuesday as part of the Peak Brain Training app. This app is available for free on App Store and the company plans to make a version available for Android devices later this year.

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