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Brain training seen as promising non-pharmacological method to enhance attention in healthy young adults

This brain train­ing app may help you stay focused, says new study (CNN):

Our dig­i­tal lives make con­cen­tra­tion difficult…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.

In order to test the game’s effect, the research team con­duct­ed a study pub­lished Mon­day in the jour­nal Fron­tiers in Behav­iour­al Neu­ro­science. For the study, 75 healthy par­tic­i­pants were split into three groups: one that played Decoder, one that played no game at all and anoth­er group who played the game Bingo…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), char­ac­ter­ized by inat­ten­tive­ness, hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty and impul­sive­ness…

Ashok Jansari, senior lec­tur­er in cog­ni­tive neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy at Gold­smiths, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don said that the research “clear­ly” shows a ben­e­fit of play­ing Decoder on a“laboratory-based mea­sure of sus­tained atten­tion.” Jansari was not involved in the research. But, “an impor­tant issue that needs to be addressed is how long-last­ing these effects are. Does one have to keep play­ing Decoder to improve sus­tained atten­tion and if one stops, does that result in return­ing to pre­vi­ous lev­els of poor­er atten­tion?”

The Study:

Improve­ments in Atten­tion Fol­low­ing Cog­ni­tive Train­ing With the Nov­el “Decoder” Game on an iPad (Fron­tiers in Behav­iour­al Neu­ro­science).

  • Abstract: … Based on neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal and neu­roimag­ing evi­dence, we devel­oped “Decoder,” a nov­el game for tar­get­ed cog­ni­tive train­ing of visu­al sus­tained atten­tion on an iPad. We aimed to inves­ti­gate the effects of cog­ni­tive train­ing in 75 healthy young adults ran­dom­ly assigned to a Cog­ni­tive Train­ing (8 h of play­ing Decoder over 4 weeks; n = 25), Active Con­trol (8 h of play­ing Bin­go over 4 weeks; n = 25) or Pas­sive Con­trol (con­tin­u­a­tion of activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing; n = 25) group. Results indi­cat­ed that cog­ni­tive train­ing with Decoder was supe­ri­or to both con­trol groups in terms of increased tar­get sen­si­tiv­i­ty (A’) on the Cam­bridge Neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal Test Auto­mat­ed Bat­tery Rapid Visu­al Infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing (CANTAB RVP) test, indi­cat­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved sus­tained visu­al atten­tion. Indi­vid­u­als play­ing Decoder also showed sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter per­for­mance on the Trail Mak­ing Test (TMT) com­pared with those play­ing Bin­go. Sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in visu­al ana­logue scales were also found between the two gam­ing groups, such that Decoder received high­er rat­ings of enjoy­ment, task-relat­ed moti­va­tion and alert­ness across all hours of game play. These data sug­gest that cog­ni­tive train­ing with Decoder is an effec­tive non-phar­ma­co­log­i­cal method for enhanc­ing atten­tion in healthy young adults, which could be extend­ed to clin­i­cal pop­u­la­tions in which atten­tion­al prob­lems per­sist.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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