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As we reported earlier this year, an innovative and very funny titled learning application, Focus Pocus™ was going to be released to improve impulse control, memory, attention and relaxation in children. The game has been developed in association of the Australian NeuroCog Solutions, the British game developers roll7, and the leader manufacturer of consumer brain-computer interfaces, NeuroSky.

Focus Pocus is based on fifteen years of research on ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The wizard-themed game uses NeuroSky’s brainwave-reading headset to assist children who have difficulty controlling memory and impulses. It assists children aged 7 to 13 years by targeting learning fundamentals (i.e. memory, impulse control, and the ability to concentrate), rather than specific learning of content (e.g. math, spelling).

Well structured mini games

In Focus Pocus™ the player takes on the roll of an apprentice wizard, working their way through 12 mini games using the Mindwave brain computer interface headset. All mini games require the child to exercise specific behavioral traits. For example:

  • ‘Impulse control’ whereby certain goblins in a forest are zapped.
  • ‘Working memory’ requiring the player to remember where a spell book was left in a library and to cast hexes on ghouls and goblins
  • ‘State control’ games, where players must relax to turn a pig into a trumpet, concentrate to hurtle along on a broomstick, or a host of other wizardy tasks

The gameplay of this magical world is devised to be fun for the child, but Focus Pocus also incorporates a “training” mode designed to track and train the player’s mental states, with anonline parent reporting and feedback system called FocusIn highlighting areas where they need improvement.

FocusIn™ works alongside Focus Pocus, allowing parents to login daily and see how their child is doing with their exercises, and also reward them for good behavior, unlocking features within Focus Pocus. FocusIn also provides a report after 25 sessions, focusing on performance and behavior change.

Focus Pocus uses the NeuroSky MindWave headset which reads and translates the brainwave data in safe and simple way and incorporates it into the game-play. The basic concept of the game is a new system that has produced positive results in research conducted by Dr Stuart Johnstone of the University of Wollongong (Australia), who tested the cognitive strategies utilized by Focus Pocus. He found that training in impulse-control and memory minimized the effects of distraction, improving overall concentration and behaviour. “I developed an interest in alternative treatments for children with ADHD after listening to their parents’ concerns about over-medication,” explains the professor.