Brain-training website opens up its data banks to researchers

Posted under Blog on July 4th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

As more and more of us turn to the internet to engage in ‘brain training’ activities, from Sudoku to Rubik’s Cube puzzles, one online gaming arena is utilising the information generated from users’ activities to help further the study of the functioning of the brain.

Luminosity, which went live in 2007, contains games such as Memory Matrix, asking users to recall a pattern of tiles, and Waiter, which requires players to remember the names and orders of a succession of customers. Games are designed to test a variety of cognitive skills – speed, memory, attention, problem solving, and flexibility – and, over time, improve users’ mental functions.

The technology assesses individuals before they begin their training with a ‘fit test’, and uses their performance in various games to measure how their ability progresses over time.

Now, the company is allowing any interested academic researchers access to its data, in order that its wealth of player information might help support and direct study of how the brain works.

More than 50 million people use Luminosity, meaning there is a vast pool of results to analyse. There’s no way of ensuring that the details entered by users are correct – for example, many of us enter different dates of birth when signing up to online resources, or are reluctant to give out information about our geographical location. But scientists are hopeful that insightful patterns may come to light through analysis of users’ performance, offering more of an understanding into how the brain works, and how specific cognitive function games might stave off, or ameliorate, the development of conditions such as Alzheimer’s. 

Try your hand at playing Luminosity’s games here:

Tags: Alzheimer's, brain training, cognitive function, Luminosity, memory, problem-solving, research

Hooked on Music

Posted under Blog on June 19th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new, highly addictive online game has been launched attempting to discover the science behind the attractiveness of a musical tune. This new research will gather data from anyone willing to participate, with the aim of providing insights that lead to possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Hooked on Music features three games to test the listener: picking the catchiest tune, muting a song and seeing if you can keep in time, and a challenge to recognise as many songs as possible in a row. There are songs from every decade from the 1940s onwards, and the games are designed so that anyone can play them.

The game was created at University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. The scientists hope the results can better define which musical fragments we find catchiest and will use the information to trigger memories for therapeutic benefits.

DJ and journalist Dave Haslam said: “Everyone knows when they’ve heard something catchy or which resonates with them in some way, and if the results from thousands of people playing the game lead to the scientists discovering how music can help people with serious memory loss, then that would be fantastic.”

Scientists are hoping thousands of people will play the game to help them generate as much data as possible. This type of innovative research is necessary to make progress in the complex, often misunderstood field of Alzheimer’s. The game has already attracted many people wanting to test their musical knowledge online and do their part for Alzheimer’s research.

Do you know your Rolling Stones from your Led Zep? Your Beatles from your Beach Boys? Or how about your Rihanna from your Run-DMC? Have a go at Hooked on Music here.

Tags: Alzheimer's, dementia, Hooked on Music, University of Amsterdam

Alzheimer’s Society launches new Dementia Café

Posted under Blog on June 5th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new and innovative project called the Dementia Café has been launched by the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society.

Opening later this month, the Dementia Café will provide an opportunity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, and their carers, to get out of the house and socialise. The hope is that it will give carers some relief from their full-time roles.

Visitors to these cafés will be able to share their accounts of living with Alzheimer’s, while experienced carers will be able to offer advice to those who are new to this role. The café will also host a variety of specialist speakers, including health and social care professionals and representatives from the local community, talking about their areas of expertise.

Marion Howell, services manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in west Essex, said: "The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Cafés can really help improve people’s quality of life. They give people with dementia and their carers the opportunity to socialise with others in similar situations and receive vital support. They are also a great source of information and guidance which can help people to live well with the condition.”

As well as the Dementia Café, the Alzheimer’s Society runs a number of services, including a post- diagnosis support service, a dementia support service and an initiative called Singing for the Brain. The organisation also run specialist support services, including reminiscence groups, a weekly gardening group, the Young at Heart group and education for carer classes.

This local solution to a nationwide problem demonstrates how communities can take action against Alzheimer’s disease. They provide meaningful support to people with the condition and those caring for them.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's society, dementia, Dementia cafe



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