We live in a world where we’re all constantly multitasking, which can make focusing on just one thing a challenge. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom think they’ve come up with a solution in the form of a game.
Called Decoder, the researcher’s say their brain-training app can help you improve your concentration, memory, and numerical skills. The results of the group’s study were recently published in the medical journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
For their research, they tested a group of people’s concentrations skills and then broke them up into three groups. One group played Decoder, another Bingo, and a third no game for eight 1-hour sessions over a four-week period.
At the end of the month, it found that the group that played Decoder showed “significant” improvements in their concentration, so significant that it compared the effects of playing the game to the effect of taking ADHD medication.
The researchers recently licensed the game to the iOS app Peak. On the platform it’s called “Wizard” and you play the role of a wizard that moves from dungeon to dungeon collecting artifacts and fending off deadly opponents. You’re given “symbol-based memory tasks” in order to move forward in the game and you’ll get a weekly summary on your progress to incentivize you to move forward.
The Wizard game is a $7 in-app purchase, which is a bit steep, but a number of the games on Peak’s platform are free to try out.
I played around with a number of the games today. Training exercises involved things as simple as sorting pictures of birds by color, to things a bit more complex, like trying to remember where “bombs” were on the screen and draw a line avoiding them.
The app includes over 40 different games created by neuroscientists that test your Memory, Attention, Problem Solving, Mental Agility, Language, Coordination, Creativity and Emotion Control.
They’re also kind of fun. Each game can be played in a minute or two, and I found myself trying to best my own scores more than once. They’re definitely stimulating and require your total focus.
I did pay the $7 for the Wizard game and failed several times while thinking of other things and not giving the game 100% of my attention. Over time, I can definitely see it “training” me to focus on what I’m doing rather than letting my mind travel elsewhere while I need to be focusing on the task at hand.