Mind Games

| Updated: November 27, 2018

Research has already shown that brain games, such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku, keep our minds sharp, possibly into later life, but one University of Washington researcher has found that they can also be used as a medical tool to spot early cognitive issues in patients diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, who have high incidences of a condition that causes impairment of mental function, called minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE). Dr. George Ioannou used the Web- and app-based brain games Color Match and Memory Matrix, from San Francisco–based Lumosity, to test three subject groups—cirrhotic patients, pre-cirrhotic patients and non-cirrhotic subjects—on their selective attention and visuospatial memory, according to the findings published in Nature. The patients with liver disease did not perform as well in the games. Ultimately, the result means that these kinds of games can potentially be used as tests to detect cognitive impairment too subtle to find with other metrics.