Have you ever questioned why you are the way that you are? Why you behave a certain way? Why you find some things appealing and others simply downright boring and mind-numbing? Well, speaking of minds, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging (UCL) have gamified their fascinating research on the inner workings of the human brain and they are now moving closer to answering these questions, one game at a time. With the development of The Great Brain Experiment app, citizen scientists can now participate in neurological experiments by playing games on their smartphones.
Four separate games come with the app, including one on memory, one to analyze happiness, one to test impulsiveness and one to examine the ‘brain brink’ phenomenon, which is basically the difficulty we have in properly seeing an image flashed in quick successions after another image. With an artsy design and a highly engaging user-interface, you can easily lose yourself in the game while the app records your every move. You can submit your final scores anonymously by granting permission and contribute to this giant scientific study – a study which would have been impossible to conduct inside the confines of a tiny science lab. Thanks to the Great Brain Experiment app, it is now easier for neuroscientists and researchers to gather a wealth of information from all across the world. Citizen science projects like the Great Brain Experiment make the whole process of carrying out an extensive research study fun.
Interestingly, each game has been designed to tackle a specific research question. For example, in the ‘stopping ourselves’ game, the researchers would specifically be analyzing the data that users submit to determine how impulsive the human brain is. So, basically the app very intelligently analyzes your response patterns by determining whether you are successfully able to restrain a response at the last minute or whether the response you were planning in your head just comes out anyway. The implications of this sort of research are endless. The scores that citizen scientists submit would ultimately offer insight regarding the various spectrums of impulsivity, for example information on individuals who have clinical disorders such as ADHD. What is more, impulsivity has also been linked to alcohol and drug addiction and the information collected through this citizen science project can help researchers gain more understanding in this area and perhaps even find treatment for these conditions.
Designed for both iOS and Android, The Great Brain Experiment App is available for free download.