A new brain training app developed by neuroscientists in the United Kingdom has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of amnestic mild cognitive impairment patients, a new report revealed.

Amnestic mild cognitive impairment often occurs between healthy aging and dementia, causing difficulties in memory and motivation.

Currently, there are no drug treatments for cognitive impairments. Although cognitive training has yielded positive results, such as speed of attentional processing, these training treatments are often boring and repetitive, which affect the motivation of patients.

Now, in the new study, researchers from the University of Cambridge attempt to solve this issue by testing the effects of their brain training app called "Game Show" on both motivation and cognition.

Improving Memory Of Patients With Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment

Cambridge neuroscientists tested the memory exercise game among 21 patients diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, as well as 21 other participants without the condition. Participants were randomly assigned to either a cognitive training group or a control group.

Those who were in the cognitive training group used the brain training app for one hour sessions eight times for four weeks, while the control group continued to visit their clinics.

In Game Show, participants are challenged to link various geometric patterns with different locations. A correct answer corresponds to additional coins. The better the participant gets, the higher the number of geometric patterns become, which sets the difficulty of the game to keep the player engaged and motivated.

Results of the study revealed that Game Show players committed a third fewer errors, required less trials, and reached an improved memory score by 40 percent.

This meant that players recalled the locations at the first attempt of episodic memory, which is crucial for everyday activities. Episodic memory helps people remember where they parked their cars or left their keys.

Compared to the control group, the Game Show players experienced retainment of more complex visual training, researchers said. Furthermore, participants in the brain game app said they enjoyed playing and were more driven to continue to play. Their subjective memory and confidence both improved during the study.

Carol Routledge from the group Alzheimer's Research UK, who was not involved in the study, said the app could hold some benefit for patients with mild memory problems.

"Without more research we can't tell if the same benefits could be achieved with any other electronic game," said Routledge.

Meanwhile, the Cambridge scientists hope to conduct a large-scale study in the future to find out how long the improvements in cognition and motivation would persist. The findings of the study are published in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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