Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a game that could help schizophrenia patients manage symptoms on a day-to-day basis.
Many schizophrenia patients find relief for psychotic symptoms through medication. However cognitive impairments, such as problems with episodic memory, can still hinder them in day-to-day life. (Episodic memory is the memory of times and places—things like where you parked your car.) There aren’t currently any pharmaceutical treatments for these cognitive symptoms. Professor Barbara Sahakian is leader of a team that made an iPad game called Wizard. Wizard is aimed at improving episodic memory for schiophrenia patients.
Psychologists, neuroscientists, a professional game developer, and schizophrenia patients worked together to create Wizard. It was in the works for nine months. The team found that patients who had played Wizard gained motivation and scored higher on tests that measured social, occupational, and psychological functioning.
This is just the first step for the game. The team is cautiously optimistic about its results. They’ve teamed up with Brainbow, the dev team who created Peak, to continue research.
“These are promising results and suggest that there may be the potential to use game apps to not only improve a patient’s episodic memory, but also their functioning in daily activities. We will need to carry out further studies with larger sample sizes to confirm the current findings, but we hope that, used in conjunction with medication and current psychological therapies, this could help people with schizophrenia minimize the impact of their illness on everyday life,” said Cambridge researcher Peter Jones.
You can actually try out Wizard. Download Peak and install the “Cambridge University & Peak Advanced Training Plan” from within the app. “This new app will allow the Wizard memory game to become widely available, inexpensively. State-of-the-art neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, combined with the innovative approach at Peak, will help bring the games industry to a new level and promote the benefits of cognitive enhancement,” says Professor Sahakian.