Have Scientists Found a Way to Improve Concentration?

Have Scientists Found a Way to Improve Concentration?

There’s a new brain training app, developed by researchers to help you stay focused. Do you believe this works?

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Total Votes : 1

Scroll down to see how people across America voted.

You are in the middle of working on an assignment, but your attention gets thrown off track at the slightest of things- your phone goes off, someone walks by, or you hear a random sound. And then when you turn your attention back to the task at hand, it feels like you went off the rail and need to refresh. Or when you’re on your laptop or watching TV, you have a habit of switching back-and-forth with your phone.

Has that ever happened to you?

Well, you wouldn’t be the only one, as keeping focus is a problem for many people, especially in the digital world we live in today. A phone is a powerful tool, both positively and negatively, but we have become so reliant on it, checking it every ten seconds, that it feels like our concentration has weakened in general.

However, according to CNN, a research group at Cambridge University believe they have developed an app which can serve as a simple, but entertaining, solution to this problem. The group was led by Barbara Sahakian, who would be approached by many regarding difficulties concentrating.

We are “always shifting our attention between these technological things that we have in front of us” like laptops and phones, trying to complete multiple jobs at the same time, Sahakian said. “People are not working effectively because they can’t direct their attention to one big problem.”

It’s a game called “Decoder” that is meant to train the brain by “asking players to detect sequences of numbers, like 2-4-6, 3-5-7, 4-6-8. Using an Indiana Jones or James Bond-like theme, the game asks players to decode number sequences which direct them to clues that solve missions.”

“For people who have had difficulty concentrating and problems getting into the flow at work or at university, Decoder should help them improve their concentration,” said Sahakian. “Our Decoder game is based on neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies and therefore it has an evidence base,” she continued.

“Decoder” activates the brain’s frontal-parietal network, which is tasked with overseeing problem-solving and attention, and gives it a workout.

“Over time we would expect to see that frontal-parietal network strengthen in the brain” and for players to be “much better at concentration,” Sahakian said.

However, although scientific tests have supported the study, some still harbor doubts about its effectiveness.

Take, for example, Nilli Lavie, a professor of psychology and brain sciences at University College London who was not involved in the research. She argued that the results only show that “people are ‘slightly better’ at performing a similar task to the one they practiced in the app.”

“Normally, if you do brain training and you want to show effective training, you need to show some generalization,” she said. The “critical thing is that” the test used to show brain training “needs to be different to the training in order to say that it is not a content-specific task-specific training.

Lavie also added that it’s difficult to judge the results because there are no distractions in the tests, which is a crucial point because this test is ultimately testing against disruptions.

Til Wykes, a professor of clinical psychology and rehabilitation at King’s College London who is not associated with the study at all, believes that there is a benefit to apps such as these, but there needs to be more quality scientific evidence to prove it.

The game was licensed to app developer Peak and can be played there. The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. Read more about it here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

There’s a new brain training app, developed by researchers to help you stay focused. Do you believe this works?

32% Totally, need this
68% Doubtful
28% Totally, need this
72% Doubtful
38% Totally, need this
62% Doubtful

Totally, need this


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