‘Brain training’ game helps people with schizophrenia

A computer game based on scientific theory regarding ‘training’ the brain to increase episodic memory, which was primarily designed by neuroscientists, has helped schizophrenia patients to recover their ability to carry out everyday tasks.

According to a recent study, the game helps those with the psychological condition to increase their memory function, which in turn allows them to carry out day-to-day tasks with greater ease.

People coping with or recovering from schizophrenia can frequently experience problems with their episodic memory, which can then prevent them from returning to work or studying.

Therefore, anything that can help to improve a patient’s ability to improve their memory is desirable.

With that goal in mind, game designers worked with Cambridge University researchers, including Professor Barbara Sahakian (the lead author of the study) for a period of nine months.

Together they developed Wizard, a gaming app that makes people remember different locations of characters on-screen.

Patients who regularly played the game for a month were four times more likely to remember facts than non-players, according to a study.

Professor Sahakian said: “This kind of memory is essential for everyday learning and everything we do really both at home and at work.

“We have formulated an iPad game that could drive the neural circuitry behind episodic memory by stimulating the ability to remember where things were on the screen.”

The study, which is published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, focused on assessing 22 patients with schizophrenia who played the game for eight hours over four weeks.

Players of Wizard were compared with non-players through a psychological test known as global assessment functioning (GAF), and the results were strongly in favour of the ‘brain training’ game.

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