People have always complained about teens' addiction to video games. However, a research team sought to prove an opposite point of view by designing a new game aimed at boosting attention.
The study carried out by researchers from the University of Wisconsin and their colleagues from the University of California showed that the new game "helped improve mindfulness in middle-schoolers and found that when young people played the game, they showed changes in areas of their brains that underlie attention."
Most educational video games are focused on presenting declarative information about a particular subject, like biology or chemistry. But, the aim of the new game is different: it seeks to change the cognitive or emotional processes by raising alertness and improving attention.
The game, called "Tenacity," was designed for middle-schoolers and requires players to count their breaths by tapping a touch screen to advance. It leads players through relaxing landscapes such as ancient Greek ruins and outer space. Players tap once per breath while counting breaths for the first four breaths and then tap twice every fifth breath. Players earn more points and advance in the game by counting sequences of five breaths accurately.
The game's tests are explained in a report published on the University of Wisconsin-Madison's website. In the study, 95 middle school-aged youth were randomly assigned to one of two groups, either the Tenacity gameplay group or a control group that played the game Fruit Ninja.
Kids in each group were instructed to play their assigned game for 30 minutes per day for two weeks while researchers conducted brain scans with participants before and after the two-week period.