Brain training app improves memory

3rd Jul 2017

There is increasing evidence that brain training might be beneficial for boosting cognition. This would be especially beneficial for patients with dementia, slowing down their cognitive decline and making their day-to-day tasks, like remembering where they have left their keys, easier. Researchers at University of Cambridge created such an app and tested it on patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

The app, which is called ‘Game Show’, requires the player to associate different geometric patterns with different locations. The number of presented geometric patterns increases as the player gets better in order to match the game difficulty with individual’s ability. After eight one-hour sessions over a four-week period, patients made around a third fewer errors, needed fewer trials and improved their memory score by around 40% compared to control group where patients only had their usual clinic visits.

The usual cognitive training that is offered to patients with dementia tends to be boring and repetitive, making it difficult to stay motivated to continue. The ‘Game Show’, however, keeps the user engaged by awarding correct answers with gold coins and increasing the difficulty of tasks as the game progresses.

Results of the study show that using this app improved episodic memory while keeping the patients engaged and motivated due to the game-based nature of the training. The researchers hope to to follow this published study up with a future large-scale study and to determine how long the cognitive improvements persist.


Full paper:

George Savulich, Thomas Piercy, Chris Fox, John Suckling, James Rowe, John O'Brien, Barbara SahakianCognitive training using a novel memory game on an iPad in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology; 3 July 2017; DOI: 10.1093/ijnp/pyx040

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