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Tuesday, 02 October 2018 08:00

How is interactive gaming being used to strengthen the mind?  

A video game featuring a friendly dolphin may appeal to the likes of toddlers and teens more so than adults, but according to research, it’s making waves in the world of cognitive stimulation.

The interactive video game known as Bandit was recently researched for its ability to stimulate and maintain both cognitive and physical health in the elderly- most especially those prone to or suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.

Professor in Mental Health, Michelle Carlson, is the head researcher behind the study. She believes the video game can be used as a tool to exercise neural networks that control complex mobility and cognition in the brain.

The project and development of this interactive video game has been funded by the Johns Hopkins Royal Center for Translational Research. The video game is an adaption of the original, created by Kata Design studio, and was formulated to offer cognitive stimulation at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.

Playing Bandit

A smiling dolphin holds centre stage in the game of Bandit, where players are tasked with controlling movements of the dolphin through increasingly challenging game levels. Players are challenged with assisting the mammal in catching fish, carrying out dolphin acrobatics, fending off predator sharks and more. The game is played using a remote control in one hand and using the arm movements of the other to control Bandit and his tasks. As such, players need to continually make physical and cognitive adjustments to carry Bandit through difficult challenges.

Bandit has become a popular video game and has been purposefully developed to sustain interest in the game, unlike many other interactive brain games on the market today.

Long-term Hopes for Bandit

While research has gone on to prove that the game strengthens independent functioning of the brain in real-world environments, its accessibility to seniors is yet to be determined.
 
The aim is to set up this interactive game as a tool for brain stimulation in retirement communities, public spaces and in homes in order to maintain healthy age-in-place environments.
 
Ultimately, the long-term hope for the game of Bandit is to prevent age-related cognitive decline, all while enhancing a senior’s ability to navigate and live in the ‘real world’. The goal of the game has been to provide an environment that is enriching in a physical, cognitive and social way.

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