During the development of Mentem games, we combined two main things – science and entertainment. The aim of the training is to have fun, but also to help your brain. Do you want proof that we have succeeded? We present three examples of such proof:
The Stroop test is one of the best-known and most used methods for measuring attention. Its author is the American psychologist J. Ridley Stroop, who published it in 1935. We have made use of it in the game Sneaky Colours.
The test is based on a discrepancy between two pieces of visual information (perceptions). These are perceived by the brain at the same time, but with varying processing times.
The first piece of information is verbal – for example the word “yellow”. The human brain gives preference to processing verbal information, so after reading the word “yellow”, the brain immediately activates the idea of the colour yellow.
The second piece of information, however, is contained in the colour in which the word is written (for example in blue). In this case, the brain processes the information more slowly compared to the verbal information.
If you wanted to say what colour the written word means, it would be easy. You would use the information that the brain processed faster and simply read the text. But the Stroop test requires you to suppress the faster verbal information and focus on the colour in which the text is written – the correct answer in our example would be “blue”.
The Stroop test is a basic diagnostic tool. It measures executive function level, attention, and the ability to handle conflict.
The Eriksen flanker task was developed by psychologists Barbara and Charles Eriksen in 1974. The aim of this task is to concentrate on one relevant piece of information while suppressing all the other (disturbing) information around you.
The original version of the test works with letters. In a sequence composed of several letters, there is always one that you need to concentrate on. The others are there to distract you. The instructions then read: when the letter K appears in the middle of a series of the letter H (HHHKHHH), say “right”. When the letter C (HHHCHHH) appears, say “left”. Response and error rates are measured.
Later, colours, characters, and arrows have been used instead of letters. For example, our Army Squadron game is based on the flanker task – no matter what direction the other fighters are, you must always determine the direction of just the one at the top of the triangle.
The fact that the flanker task is not only a fun game, but a real “brain enhancer” is supported by a number of experiments and studies. For example, it was proven that people have longer reaction times after ingesting alcohol or drugs compared to when they are sober. This even led to use of the flanker task in some tests for drivers.
And one additional interesting point: some schizophrenics are better in the flanker task than healthy people are. In contrast, people suffering from Parkinson’s disease have a lot of difficulties with the task – especially if they know their training is time-limited.
The Corsi test trains spatial imagination as well as short-term and sensory memory. Interestingly, the test is not based on words (verbal information), so the test is not dependent on the test taker’s nationality or age.
The test was developed in 1972 by Philip Michael Corsi. It is a set of nine wooden blocks of the same size that are placed randomly on a board. The task is to repeat the instruction the examiner shows – one tap on each block in the same order as the examiner. The difficulty is steadily increased, and the test ends when the test taker makes too many mistakes.
Corsi was inspired by an earlier intelligence test called Digit Span. Digit Span was tested by the examiner reading a sequence of numbers, and the test taker repeating them in the same order..
Over time, the Corsi test started to be used in electronic form as the examiner was replaced by a computer. As a result, the test has spread rapidly. Mentem uses it in the game Teleport.
The Mentem training site cooperates with psychologists and e-learning specialists. Thanks to this cooperation, we can say with a clear conscience that the trainings focus on the relevant brain functions. Nothing would have been achieved without our devoted programmers and graphic designers who have given the games their ideal form and functionality.
With support from the Alzheimer’s Society, a study was carried out in 2015 which monitored the influence of computer exercises on the cognitive functions of British senior citizens.
It involved 7,000 people aged 50+. After a half a year of training, scientists found some interesting results. People aged over 60 improved by 15% in day-to-day activities. People aged 50–59 improved their logical thinking – by 30%!
A team of neuroscientists from the University of California examined how a group of about 50 people aged 60–85 performed in brain training. They used the computer game Neuroracer, which trains cognitive function. After four weeks of training, the elderly study participants improved to the point that they were better than 20-year-old beginners. This is solid proof that the brain can learn at any age.