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Cambridge researchers use brain training game to treat schizophrenia

Cambridge researchers use brain training game to treat schizophrenia
August 3, 2015 | By Chris Kerr

August 3, 2015 | By Chris Kerr
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More: Smartphone/Tablet, Design

University of Cambridge researchers have created a brain training title that effectively combats the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Though some schizophrenia symptoms can be treated with conventional medicines, those suffering on a day-to-day basis as a result of cognitive impairments have so far been unable to seek pharmaceutical help. 

Spurred on by mounting evidence that suggests computer-assisted training and rehabilitation can help alleviate those symptoms, the Cambridge-based team, led by professor Barbara Sahakian, developed Wizard, an iPad game aimed at improving episodic memory.

The result of a nine month collaboration between psychologists, neuroscientists, a professional game developer, and schizophrenia patients, Wizard was designed to be fun, attention-grabbing, and motivational. After being tested on multiple training groups, Sahakian's team found that those participants who'd played Wizard became more motivated and scored higher on tests designed to measure social, occupational, and psychological functioning. 

Cautiously optimistic about its findings, the team has now joined forces with brainbow, developers of brain training app, Peak. By working with the brainbow team, Sahakian's group hope to unearth more concrete findings, while also promoting the benefits of "cognitive enhancement".

"These are promising results and suggest that there may be the potential to use game apps to not only improve a patient’s episodic memory, but also their functioning in activities of daily living," explained Cambridge researcher, Professor Peter Jones.

"We will need to carry out further studies with larger sample sizes to confirm the current findings, but we hope that, used in conjunction with medication and current psychological therapies, this could help people with schizophrenia minimize the impact of their illness on everyday life.”

“This new app will allow the Wizard memory game to become widely available, inexpensively," added Sahakian, echoing the comments of Jones. 

"State-of-the-art neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, combined with the innovative approach at Peak, will help bring the games industry to a new level and promote the benefits of cognitive enhancement." 

You can check out Wizard 2.0 right now by downloading Peak and installing the Cambridge University & Peak Advanced Training Plan from within the app.

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