David Papp Blog

Gaming: A Tool to Boost Cognitive Abilities

For centuries humans have been quite successful at developing training programs designed to push the envelope of physical fitness. Want to lift 300 lb. weights? There are plenty of different training programs you can follow. Want to run a full marathon? A quick search on Google will show you several guides that’ll help you get in shape for that.

But what about our mental ability? Is there a proven regimen specifically designed to increase our cognitive capabilities?

Mind Games
According to a company called Akili, the answer lies in creating a “targeted, personalised, multimodal and closed-loop” solution, one that can be seamlessly integrated into video games. The company believes that video games, due to their immersive, engaging, and interactive nature taps into our brain’s neuroplasticity properties, changing the way it behaves as we’re playing them.

By analyzing and measuring different brain functions such as attention, working memory, and goal management using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalogram tests (EEG), Akili claims they can “gather biomarkers” in order to look for specific patterns that can help improve brain function.

By using their concept as a roadmap, the team has already created a game called “Neuroracer”. Recent results have shown dramatic improvements in the multitasking abilities of 60 to 80 year old players who spent time with the game for 12 hours a week. Using Neuroracer to gather results over a three-year study, Akili is finding out how the game can be used as a diagnostics tool.

A Good Start
While Akili is very proud of Neuroracer, they admit it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what they’d like to achieve. They’re hoping it’ll serve as a blueprint for creating more video games that can significantly boost human cognitive abilities. Currently they’re developing new games that focus on things like meditation, attention, and mimicking the brain’s rhythmic nature and more. The team plans to use their data as a stepping stone to finding out how a game can “change cognition at a big level”.

2 thoughts on “Gaming: A Tool to Boost Cognitive Abilities”

  1. This is actually really interesting, I’m a psychology student and I’ve heard a lot in my classes about how common video games can stimulate our cognitive abilities, specifically those related to coordination and objects discrimination, what I think that has to do with the attention that you need to put on a lot of video games. So, I’m really looking forward to see if this new game not only stimulate them but also improve them.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Certainly an article parents who think video games are bad for their kids should take a look at. According to some studies video games boosts strategic thinking and as they are making games which are supposed to boost cognitive abilities I think these would be great not just for kids but also for the elderly [the games will keep their minds sharp].

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