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This brain training app can help you stay focused, says new study

A team of researchers from Cambridge University believes it has developed a "fun" solution to this contemporary problem. Playing a "brain workout" game called Decoder, players can increase their concentration. This success, they claim is supported by scientific tests.

The inspiration behind the game for leading researcher Barbara Sahakyan, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University, came from the large number of people who come to her with difficulty concentrating. "We've always focused our attention on these technological things we have before us, like laptops and phones, trying to complete several jobs at once," she said. "People do not work effectively because they can not turn their attention to a big problem."

The decoding game asks players to find sequence numbers such as 2-4-6, 3-5-7, 4-6-8. Using Indiana Jones or James Bond, the game requires players to decode sequences of numbers that point them to clues that solve missions.

"This is pretty fun," said Sahakian, who explained that players need to stay focused to see the sequences and not think of anything else or decide to check their emails. The game is also "something that can be put in" during a ten minute pause at work. Compared to other ways of reorienting, such as running, it does not require advance planning or time-consuming, she explained.

The frontal flap of the brain, responsible for problem solving and attention, is activated during the game, she said. In the same way as exercises, doing tasks that can strengthen this part of the brain will preserve it and enable people to do more than before, Saakak explained. It's "use or lose the idea," Saakyan said. "Over time, we expect to see that the frontal parietal network is growing in the brain, and for players to be" much better in concentration, "she added.

  In some countries this month of birth is associated with higher levels of ADHD,
To test the effect of the game, the research team conducted a study published on Monday in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. For the study, 75 healthy participants were divided into three groups: one playing a decoder, playing no game, and another group playing the Bingo game. A pre-and post-play attention and concentration test was performed . For this test, players see numbers from two to nine in the middle of the screen, at a rate of 100 digits per minute, and have to press a button when they notice sequence.

People who played a decoder for eight hours in a month showed considerably better attention than others who played Bingo or did not play at all. The authors say the difference is comparable to the effects of using stimulants, such as ritalin – a common medicine prescribed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Some scientists have doubts about the effectiveness of the game.

The Decoder application is "very similar" to the test used to determine its effectiveness, says Nile Lavi, Professor of Psychology and Brain Sciences at London University College who did not participate in the study. The results show that LaVy noted that people are "a little better" to perform a similar task than they were practicing in the app. "Normally, if you train your brain and want to show effective training, you need to show some kind of summary," she said. "Critical is that" the test used to show brain training "should be different from training to say that this is not job-specific learning content. "

She added that" there is no distraction in the test. This means we can not tell if people will be less distracted when doing the test or some other task after brain work. " ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190108133059-20190108-perspectives-biosensor-app-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>

To ensure that the decoder has improved people's concentration and attention without limits their ability to redirect attention, the team also conducted a second test called [19659011] Test to create a trail. Here the participants had to skip the focus on letter numbers and back to numbers.

The time it took for the participants to complete this task was significantly different between the decoder and the band Bingo. But not when the set of decoders was compared to the group that did not play at all.

Participants were asked to evaluate their experience. The decoder enjoyed and the motivation remained high during the eight hours of play.

"We hope the game will benefit those with disabilities, including those with ADHD or traumatic brain injury." We plan to begin a study of patients with traumatic brain injuries this year, "said Sahakyan.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIQA) and the Center for Biomedical Research at the NIJC in Cambridge.

After the recently released study was completed, the game was licensed through Cambridge Enterprise, which is the technology transfer hand of Cambridge University, to the Peak application developer. Saakyan is the scientific adviser to the company.

When users download it for the first time, their strengths and weaknesses are assessed. Then they can play Decoder in their daily workout. The version offers the game once a day as part of a workout. While the paid version allows players to access the decoder when they want, which can be more than once a day.

Ashok Jansari, Senior Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology at Goldsmiths, University of London said the study "clearly" demonstrates the benefit of Game Decoding "Laboratory Measurement of Continuous Attention." Jansari was not involved in the study.

But, "an important issue to be considered is how long-term these effects are: Should we continue to play Decoder to improve our sustained attention and, if we stop, whether this results in the return of previous levels

Yansari added that "further research is needed to show whether the decoder has advantages beyond standard laboratory attention measures, and secondly, whether there is any relevance, if any, to its impact on individuals with very complex clinical disorders

Till Wicks, a professor of clinical psychology and rehabilitation at King's College London, said in an email that it is generally accepted that applications are useful, but "high scientific evidence of the benefit is scarce." [19659003] Wkyes, who did not participate in the survey, asked whether "this study is welcome, but only shows the benefits of another computer test, not real-life, does it really improve the handling of your emails and how long?" [19659002

Help Us Focus

Other ways to improve our attention are exercises that are "versatile," as Sahak explains, because it improves knowledge, physical health and mood. ,

"Unfortunately there is no magic bullet," said Lavi. From her own study, she has found that people's attention can be improved when they engage in tasks that are more difficult to attract their attention.

Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Domingue Hill, co-author of "The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in the High Tech World," explained that "we have a crisis of attention" smartphones and other digital technologies.

One approach that can raise awareness and this study shows that such an approach would work with young people.

The particular types of games can accurately adjust our controlling processes and, over time, enrich the connections in the prefrontal cortex where our attention resources are, he explained.

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