You know we love to interview the world’s foremost experts in the topics of anxiety and anxiety research. After all, that’s how we learn. And that’s exactly what we’re up to today.
Recently, we told you about a unique study on the effects of targeted brain games in the reduction of anxiety. Led by Dr. Jason Moser, the study aimed to determine whether or not increased focus through specific video exercises can reduce anxiety.
In light of the positive outcome of this experiment, we contacted Dr. Moser to find out just what makes him tick. Following are the wise words of wisdom that our new friend shared with us.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Dr. Moser. First of all, how did you become interested in the topic of anxiety?
I became interested in anxiety as a senior in college. Initially I became interested because I wanted to help people-and anxiety seemed to be universal but manageable.
As I grew in my interests, I found anxiety fascinating because it is so ubiquitous in daily life and also represents the core of the most prevalent mental health problems. It’s something that touches us all, is core to human experience, but also causes problems for so many. Really, it just seemed to be extremely relevant and impactful for so many people.
How did you find your way to researching increased focus/distraction through games?
Anxiety can have a lot of negative impacts. My interests in cognitive psychology and neuroscience grew in parallel to my interests in anxiety. And given the negative impacts of anxiety on attention and focus, it just seemed to me a natural marriage of topics.
Anxiety impacts a lot more than just how people pay attention to negative or threatening things. It can impact how we keep and maintain focus in daily activities. In short, anxiety increases distraction in a lot of different contexts — work, school, in relationships. And so we wanted to test whether we could help people decrease their distractibility, which we reasoned would also decrease their feelings of anxiety.
Do you have plans to release a similar game commercially?
We are exploring different avenues for dissemination. We just want to feel confident in whatever we do decide to make more publicly available.
What wise words of wisdom can you share with our readers based on your research?
Based on our research, I would say that anxiety can be quelled by keeping focus on tasks at hand, in the moment. Indeed, this is easier said than done, but this is the bottom line.
Our research suggests that if people can train their brains to stay more focused on specific tasks in the moment, they can reduce distraction and feel less anxious.
I have had countless clients tell me that they couldn’t worry, obsess/compulse, or be anxious at work because they were so busy. This is exactly our point. If people can get themselves immersed in goal-directed, focused activity they can feel less anxious and stay focused.
Finding these things that immerse us is the trick. This can be done individually or by practicing the types of focused brain games that we hope to develop and that some already have.
Thank you again, Dr. Moser. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for your findings.
About: Dr. Jason Moser is an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. He believes that the ability to regulate cognition, emotion, and behavior represent a core capacity of healthy human functioning. His work consists of a combination of clinical and developmental research, social-personality, and neuroscience.