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Researchers have created a simple game in which people identify a specific shape in a series of shapes. The game helped participants focus and reduced anxiety. Credit: Michigan State University
Researchers have created a simple game in which people identify a specific shape in a series of shapes. The game helped participants focus and reduced anxiety. Credit: Michigan State University

A ‘brain game’ that helps you overcome anxiety, focus better

Distractions are inevitable. At every turn, there’s something that is waiting to rob you off your ‘time’. But, what is a distraction? It can just be about anything. It cab be defined simply like a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else. Distractions are generally perceived as a negative influence — one that forces the person to lose focus on the job at hand, which in turn increases the chances of the doing something wrong.

Is there any way to overcome it?

Michigan State University researchers have come up with a ‘brain game’ that reduces anxiety by helping people focus better.

Anxiety has a direct influence on how much and frequently we get distracted. The equation is simple. The more the anxiety, the higher our sensitivity to distractions around us. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, and the peak time for the disorders is ages 18-25.

Anxiety disorder is a catchall term that encompasses everything from fear, panic, nervousness and worrying. Here’s a detailed look at anxiety disorder.

Now, back to the game.

In the study, participants with both low and high anxiety completed a focus task in which they identified a specific shape in a series of shapes (e.g., a red circle amid red squares, diamonds and triangles). Afterward they were given an exercise designed to distract them (by mixing in different colored shapes), but it didn’t.

The focus task, Jason Moser, had improved concentration and lessened anxiety for the anxious participants, in particular, even after the distraction exercise.

There are a plethora of “brain-training” games on the market, Prof. Moser noted, but they are highly controversial and offer no independent scientific proof they help sharpen focus, let alone reduce anxiety.

“There have been other studies of video game-type interventions for anxiety,” he added, “but none have used a specific and simple game that targets distraction.”

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