Publication: Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience

George Savulich, Emily Thorp, Thomas Piercy, Katie A Peterson, John D Pickard, Barbara J Sahakian.

21 Jan 2019


A new ‘brain training’ game designed by researchers at the University of Cambridge improves users’ concentration, according to new research published today. The scientists behind the venture say this could provide a welcome antidote to the daily distractions that we face in a busy world.

A team from the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cambridge, has developed and tested ‘Decoder’, a new game that is aimed at helping users improve their attention and concentration. The game is based on the team’s own research and has been evaluated scientifically.

In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience Professor Sahakian and colleague Dr George Savulich have demonstrated that playing Decoder on an iPad for eight hours over one month improves attention and concentration. This form of attention activates a frontal-parietal network in the brain. Read the full story here

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Publication: Nature

Baland Jalal, Annette Brühl, Claire O’Callaghan, Thomas Piercy, Rudolf N. Cardinal, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Barbara J. Sahakian


A ‘brain training’ app could help people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) manage their symptoms, which may typically include excessive handwashing and contamination fears.

One of the most common types of OCD, affecting up to 46% of OCD patients, is characterised by severe contamination fears and excessive washing behaviour. Excessive washing can be harmful as sometimes OCD patients use spirits, surface cleansers or even bleach to clean their hands. The behaviours can have a serious impact on people’s lives, their mental health, their relationships and their ability to hold down jobs.

Cambridge researchers developed a new treatment to help people with contamination fears and excessive washing. The intervention, which can be delivered through a smartphone app, involves patients watching videos of themselves washing their hands or touching fake contaminated surfaces. Read the full story here

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Publication: PLoS One

Fernandez-Egea E, Vertes P.E, Flint S.M, Turner L, Mustafa S, Hatton A, Smith K.G.C, Lyons P.A. and Bullmore E.T 2016; 11:e0155631

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Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Whitaker, K.J., Vértes, P.E., Romero-Garcia, R., Váša, F., Moutoussis, M., Prabhu, G., Weiskopf, N., Callaghan, M.F., Wagstyl, K., Rittman, T., Tait, R., Suckling, J., Ooi, C., Inkster, B., Fonagy, P., Dolan, R., Goodyer, I.M., Jones, P.B., the NSPN Consortium, Bullmore, E.T. 2016 , 113(32), pp.9105-9110.

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Publication: Molecular Psychiatry

Kappelmann, N., Lewis, G., Dantzer, R., Jones, P.B. and Khandaker, G.M., 2016 Oct 18. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.167

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Ersche, K.D., Gillan, C.M., Jones, P.S., Williams, G.B., Ward, L.H., Luijten, M., de Wit, S., Sahakian, B.J., Bullmore, E.T. and Robbins, T.W., 2016.. Science, 352(6292), pp.1468-1471.

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