Developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, a computer-based memory game has been tested on a small number of schizophrenia patients with positive results.
With results showing improvements in learning and memory, the game may be able to help patients return to work after a diagnosis.
Schizophrenia causes various psychological symptoms including hallucinations and behaviour changes. Many sufferers also have problems with cognition, with their memory often being affected. This can make it difficult for some patients to live independently.
The brain-training game has a wizard theme and contains various levels of difficulty. The players have to enter different rooms, find boxes and then remember where they put them.
According to professor Barbara Sahakian, who researched the impact of the game, patients who played made fewer errors in memory and brain functionality tests after playing the game. This, she says, is an indication that patients were better prepared to function in the ‘real world’.
Drug treatment for the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia is making slow progress. Prof Sahakian says the game has no side-effects and could step in where drugs have failed.
While the results of this research is hopeful, the team admit that further research on larger groups is necessary to confirm findings. They also highlighted that memory training games like this would need to be used alongside medication and psychological treatments.