Science-backed brain game eases distraction, anxiety

Image Credit: Michigan State University
Image Credit: Michigan State University

In our increasingly distracted world, it can often be hard to focus, and this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for some, especially those affected by anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, and the peak time for these disorders is through the ages 18-25.

A study led by Jason Moser, Michigan State University associate professor of psychology, found that anxious college students who played a simple brain game were less distracted and anxious. Photo by G.L. Kohuth
A study led by Jason Moser, Michigan State University associate professor of psychology, found that anxious college students who played a simple brain game were less distracted and anxious. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

Now, researchers led by Michigan State University’s (MSU) Jason Moser have created a surprisingly simple yet targeted brain game that was shown to reduce anxiety in college students, allowing them to stay more focused.

While the research is only the first scientific step toward addressing the effects of distraction on anxiety, it could eventually lead to an everyday solution, reports MSU’s Andy Henion.

“Down the line we could roll out an online or mobile game based on this research that specifically targets distraction and helps people stay focused and feel less anxious,” said Moser, associate professor of clinical psychology at MSU.

There are many “brain-training” games already on the market, Moser noted, but they are highly controversial and offer no independent scientific proof they help sharpen focus, let alone reduce anxiety.

“There have been other studies of video game-type interventions for anxiety,” he added, “but none have used a specific and simple game that targets distraction.”

The study is published online in the journal Behavior Therapy. Moser’s co-researchers are Tim Moran from MSU and Andrew Leber from Ohio State University.

This article was originally posted to STEAMRegister.com. If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in this: Playing Tetris can block addictive cravings.

 

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