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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.

News in Context:

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

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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