Cognitive training using an attention/concentration game in adults with brain injury

 Prof. Barbara Sahakian

Cognitive training is an important and powerful technique that is an effective and safe method for boosting cognition (i.e. the mental actions needed for processing information) across a range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including forms of brain injury. These techniques use computers to ‘train’ participants to respond to mental exercises that can enhance  different aspects of cognition, such as attention and memory. Gamified cognitive training  is known for being highly motivational and thus has the potential to offer an innovative  method for promoting cognitive recovery , particularly in patient groups in which medications are not effective or licenced for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction. Individuals with brain injury are good candidates for cognitive training as they typically experience loss or damage to several cognitive functions following injury. These deficits can lead to several problems for patients, such as difficulties reintegrating back into the community or returning to work, as well as leading to reduced ability to live independently and other longer-term disabilities. We previously developed a NIHR Brain Injury Healthcare Technology Co-operativefunded, iPad-based attention/concentration game in collaboration with patients with brain injury. This game was refined until it was rated as enjoyable, motivational and easy to use. We now plan to use this game to train visual sustained attention  (i.e. the ability to maintain attention/concentration over longer periods of time) and response inhibition  (i.e. the ability to withhold an inappropriate response) in patients with brain injury. It is anticipated that up to eight hours of cognitive training (playing our game) will improve patient’s attention/concentration and response inhibition and provide additional benefits to their symptomology, mood, health and overall wellbeing in comparison with patients who do not play the game.