Recent years have seen a new trend: brain games in the mental health field. Sites like Happify promote simple video exercises aimed at improving mental health. But can games like these help those who suffer from anxiety?
Researchers at Michigan State University have delved into this concept by creating a simple yet targeted brain game thought to lessen anxiety by increasing focus and minimizing distraction.
The study, led by Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology Dr. Jason Moser, asked college students to perform two exercises. They first identified a series of shapes through a video exercise, and then participated in an exercise meant to create distraction. Students who first completed the video exercise exhibited greater focus and less anxiety.
The findings are relatively new in an industry that is, for the most part, not research-based.
“There are a plethora of ‘brain-training’ games on the market, but they are highly controversial and offer no independent scientific proof they help sharpen focus, let alone reduce anxiety,” said Moser in a press release.
The study is the first of its kind, opening the doors to an entirely new type of anxiety management.
“There have been other studies of video game-type interventions for anxiety, but none have used a specific and simple game that targets distraction,” said Moser.
Moser suggested that this research could potentially lead to later developments.
“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,” he added.
We know we are very interested to see what this thought leader comes up with next. Thank you, Dr. Moser. With Anxiety in Tow gives this research a definite thumbs up.