Memory training app leads to improved memory in dementia

Memory training app leads to improved memory in dementia

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New game can give people with dementia an improved memory
There is new hope for people in the early stages of dementia. A newly developed game by researchers at the University of Cambridge could help improve memory in patients with the earliest stages of dementia.

In their current investigation, scientists from the internationally recognized University of Cambridge found that a newly developed game can protect against the effects of early dementia and improve the memory of those affected. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology".

Normal training sessions quickly get boring
In the early stages of dementia, everyday memory problems and problems with motivation occur. There is no effective drug treatment for cognitive impairment, the experts explain. Cognitive training leads to some advantages for those affected, such as an improved speed of attention processing. However, such training sessions are usually always the same and therefore quickly become boring, the authors add.

Scientists are developing what is known as a memory game app
To overcome this problem, the University of Cambridge scientists developed a so-called memory game app. The game was developed in collaboration with patients with early dementia. The experts examined the impact of using the game on patient cognition and motivation.

Subjects were divided into two groups
The researchers examined 42 subjects for their study. These were assigned to either a control group or the cognitive training group. The participants in the cognitive training group played the memory game a total of eight times for one hour each over a period of four weeks, the researchers explain. The participants in the control group continued their visits to the clinic as usual.

Adjusting the difficulty for individual participants led to increased motivation
In the game that the participants played on an iPad, the player takes part in a game show. The goal of this show is to win as many gold coins as possible, the doctors say. Each round, players are asked to link geometric patterns to different locations. With every correct answer, the player earned more coins. The game continued until the end or ended after six failed attempts, the scientists say. The better the player performed, the higher the number of geometric patterns. This helped adapt the difficulty of the game to the performance of the individual. So the participants stayed motivated for longer, the authors add.

What positive effects did the newly developed game have?
The results of the study showed that the game contributed to an improved memory. Players made a third less mistakes, needed fewer attempts, and improved their memory on a point scale by about 40 percent in so-called tests of episodic memory, the researchers explain. Episodic memory is important for daily activities. It is needed, for example, if we try to remember where we left our keys or parked our car, the doctors say.

Subjects were better able to retain more complex visual information
Compared to the control group, the participants in the cognitive training group also remembered more complex visual information after the training. In addition, the participants in the cognitive training group stated that they were definitely motivated to play the game for longer than the required eight hours, the scientists explain. The game improved the participants' self-confidence and subjective memory.

The game has to be fun and motivate the players
A healthy brain is as important as good physical health. There is increasing evidence that brain training can be beneficial for promoting cognition and brain health, says author Professor Barbara Sahakian. However, the training should be based on well-founded research and developed together with the patient. The game must also motivate users. Our game allowed us to individualize a patient's cognitive training program in such a way that those affected enjoy it and are motivated to continue training, the expert adds. (as)

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