Brain-training game launched to boost seniors' cognitive health

MindWorks, the set of six brain training games was launched on Tuesday (Aug 22) at Temasek Polytechnic's (TP) Ageing Symposium 2017, held on the school's campus in Tampines.
MindWorks, the set of six brain training games was launched on Tuesday (Aug 22) at Temasek Polytechnic's (TP) Ageing Symposium 2017, held on the school's campus in Tampines.PHOTO: TEMASEK POLYTECHNIC

SINGAPORE - A set of mobile-phone games has been created to help boost the cognitive health of seniors.

The Android games are memory-based and target people above the age of 50. They incorporate basic matching, counting and sequencing skills, with a time limit of two minutes.

Called MindWorks, the set of six brain training games was launched on Tuesday (Aug 22) at Temasek Polytechnic's (TP) Ageing Symposium 2017, held on the school's campus in Tampines.

Bearing the theme, "Towards Successful Ageing", the symposium focused on three key aspects of a person: physical (exercise), cognitive (brain training) and socio-emotional (mindfulness).

Researchers and students from the polytechnic teamed up with neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima from Japan's Tohoku University to create the games to challenge an ageing brain.

The games were developed by researchers from TP's Centre for Applied Gerontology and students from the School of Informatics and Information Technology as a solution to the increasing cognitive problems faced by senior citizens in Singapore.

Professor Kawashima, director of the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University, said: "We have been developing an approach to maintain and improve the brain and mental health through interdisciplinary industry-academic collaborative research, so that we can overcome many of the problems related to a super-ageing society."

Professor Kawashima served as the team's adviser, and would fly in at least twice a year to check the status of the games' development.

He said the games could also help prevent and reduce dementia. 

The TP team started their research in early 2014, and collected feedback from 22 seniors above the age of 50.

The games have been tested on a batch of 60 seniors, with the results still being evaluated.

One of the seniors, Mr Chew Khoon Hong, 60, found the games interesting.

"When you play the game, they have difficulty levels, which make the games quite interesting," said the retired facility manager. "You have to think fast; you have to use mental calculation."

The developers recommend that the game be played 15 minutes daily, three to five times a week.