Brain-training website opens up its data banks to researchers

Posted under Uncategorized 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: 


Date of prep. January 2015                     RXUKPDGL00004t

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

A test to identify famous faces may help spot early dementia

Posted under Uncategorized on August 14th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new study suggests that asking patients to identify pictures of famous people may help spot early dementia.

A study published in the journal Neurology found that people with early onset primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a rare form of dementia, found it difficult to identify 20 black and white pictures of famous people such as Princess Diana, Elvis Presley and Bill Gates.

The research team found that people with early-onset dementia scored significantly worse in recognizing the faces and names of the 20 celebrities, correctly identifying 79% of the celebrities’ faces, and remembering only 46% of the corresponding names. People without dementia were able to identify 97% of the celebrities’ faces, and 93% of the corresponding names.

Dr Marie Janson of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “It's important to be able to give an accurate diagnosis for people with dementia so they can gain access to the right care and treatments, but the different forms of dementia can be difficult to identify.”

She continued: “While this test is not yet ready to be used as a widespread tool for diagnosis, this study suggests that assessments of face recognition could be useful for helping to detect primary progressive aphasia.”

“These results suggest that the test used in this study could help shed light on the specific cognitive problems experienced by people with this rare form of dementia.”

One of the researchers on the study, Tamar Gefen, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said: “These tests also differentiate between recognizing a face and actually naming it, which can help identify the specific type of cognitive impairment.”

“In addition to its practical value in helping us identify people with early dementia, this test may also help us understand how the brain works to remember and retrieve its knowledge of words and objects.”

It’s hoped that research such as this will improve understanding of the early stages of dementia, and allow researchers to fine-tune methods for detecting the early symptoms.


Date of prep. January 2015                     RXUKPDGL00004t 

Tags: Alzheimer's research, brain training, cognitive research, early symptoms of Alzheimer's, early symptoms of dementia, image recognition




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