Focus Pocus is a game with benefits! It is played for fun and was designed to provide an environment to practice skills such as attention, relaxation, impulse-control and memory. Train to develop “powers” by mastering the 12 engaging mini-games. These powers help you battle the evil necromancer, and also may help improve behavior and academic outcomes!
Focus Pocus Features
For the Kids!
- 12 mini-games plus Boss game
- Training, Challenge, Multiplayer modes
- Performance Tracking
- Customisable wizard characters
- Games powered by the brain!
For the adults
- Daily reports on training performance
- Drill-down for more details
- Parent can reward child in game
- End of training report (after 25 sessions)
- Follow-on exercise recommendations
- Uses Neurosky Mindwave or Mindset
- Local installation with server security
What is Focus Pocus
Focus Pocus is a game with benefits! It is played for fun and was designed to provide an environment to practice skills such as attention, relaxation, impulse-control and memory. Train to develop “powers” by mastering the 12 engaging mini-games. These powers help you battle the evil necromancer, and also may help improve behaviour and academic outcomes! See game play here.
Focus Pocus is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
In training mode, rewards and incentives are provided so that achievements and outcomes can be monitored and reported in FocusIn. All performance and EEG data is recorded for use in the daily and end-of-training reports shown in FocusIn. The difficulty level of the games is adaptive, adjusting game-by-game to the performance of the child – the goal is improvement.
Focus Pocus uses live brain electrical activity (i.e. EEG) from the NeuroSky MindWave (and other) portable EEG device, with some games controlled directly by brain power and control.
Focus Pocus is based on IP licensed by NeuroCog from the University of Wollongong, Australia
What was Focus Pocus designed to do?
While the games within Focus Pocus are engaging and fun, they also exercise important psychological processes that underlie our ability to control our own behaviour, when we learn, play and interact. Take learning for example. As shown below, the outcome of any learning experience is the result of the content presented, the environment in which it is presented, and the person’s readiness to learn.
This readiness depends on attention (a “state” factor) as well as being able to hold information in memory, control impulses and ignore distractions (cognitive factors). Being calm and relaxed is also a part of this readiness. Focus Pocus addresses this readiness, providing an environment to exercise the state and cognitive factors.
Who may benefit from using Focus Pocus?
Children with ADHD
Focus Pocus addresses the problems that underlie the behaviour seen in children with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD show very frequent inattentive, impulsive and in some cases hyperactive behaviours – this has a negative effect on the child’s ability to learn, play and interact with others.
ADHD has been the subject of an enormous amount of research. The most consistent problems are with impulse-control (the ability to stop, think and then act), working memory (holding information needed to do a task in mind) and state-control (the ability to adjust the level of attention/relaxation to an appropriate level to achieve aims).
Focus Pocus provides an environment for children with ADHD to exercise to improve these problem areas. It is the only application to address each of these three key areas at the same time, taking advantage of the dynamic interplay between them.
The processes that contribute to the control of behaviour and learning – impulse-control, working memory and attention/relaxation – are essentially the same for all children, so Focus Pocus may help all children to enhance their ability in these areas. The games are adaptive, presenting a challenge regardless of the child’s current ability in these areas.
How might Focus Pocus help?
Research has shown that behaviour can be improved by using techniques to enhance state and cognitive factors. The main reason for this improvement is more efficient and effective impulse-control, working memory and state-regulation ability. Focus Pocus was designed to allow exercise of each of these important areas at one time, in one fun package.
What types of exercises are used?
Neurofeedback principles are used to exercise attention and relaxation (“state” factors) via awareness and development of control with practice. The NeuroSky MindWave EEG device provides information about the current level of attention (ranging from high to low) with games designed to encourage and reward control. Importantly, the games also promote awareness and control of relaxation (ranging from calm to tense) and the combination of the two – called “Zen” – being focussed and calm is the ideal state for learning.
Cognitive training and learning principles are used to exercise impulse-control and working memory, with encouragement and reward for good performance during high levels of attention. This combination is crucial, as processes such as impulse-control and working memory are dependent on the child’s state. A mid-range attention level is the ideal state for performance of many cognitive tasks. Remember all of this is hidden in games that are engaging and fun!
Has any research been conducted with Focus Pocus?
Yes! Published research studies have shown behavioural improvements for children with ADHD after 20-25 training sessions (or about 10-12 hours) of using the cognitive exercises in Focus Pocus. Inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive behaviours were reduced after training. Parents reported that their children were better able to follow through on instructions, reading more and without prompting, and behaving more appropriately in the classroom and at home. For more information, please see this page on the research background of Focus Pocus.
Is there any way to monitor progress?
Yes. FocusIn is a reporting application designed in conjunction with Focus Pocus. Simply login to view daily reports on your child’s training performance. At the completion of 25 training sessions, a comprehensive report on achievements and outcomes is produced by FocusIn. This comprehensive report considers performance changes in impulse-control, working memory, state-control, EEG and observable behaviour.
What happens after the 25 sessions of training?
The user moves into the Apply phase, making use of the Challenge and Multiplayer features of Focus Pocus, giving open access to all exercises. As shown below, this phase involves putting the skills learned during training to use, and proceeds at the users own pace.
Does Focus Pocus claim to provide therapeutic benefits?
Focus Pocus is not a therapeutic treatment for ADHD or any other disorder. It offers users an opportunity to exercise important psychological processes such as attention, working memory and impulse control, with a view to improve them. These processes underlie behavioural control, and improving them may result in improved behaviour. The software monitors performance and adjusts the level of difficulty accordingly to constantly challenge the user to improve.
Are the state control exercises in Focus Pocus safe?
Our level of attention and relaxation varies frequently – second by second. The state control exercises in Focus Pocus allow the user to become aware of their current state, and to gain a certain level of control of it over time based on this feedback. The exercises are short duration, and randomly vary between Focus (attention), Relax (relaxation) and Zen (the combination of the attention and relaxation). This variety results in genuine awareness, flexibility and control, rather than just learning a response to a stimulus, making transfer of this new awareness and control easier in day-to-day activities.
It is important to note that there are no known side effects from other similar applications using EEG-based attention/relaxation training – these applications often target a single goal (e.g. “increase attention”) over an extended period of time (say, 10 minutes).
The short duration attention exercises in Focus Pocus are similar to other activities that children engage in daily (e.g. playing video games, doing homework) in the way that they increase attention, and do not place children at any risk. The variety of exercises types (i.e. Focus, Relax and Zen) ensures that children do a mix of attention focussing and relaxing when playing Focus Pocus.
The working memory and impulse control exercises passively monitor Focus in the background and are such are 100% safe.
How does Focus Pocus differ from other similar products?
- Focus Pocus is easy to use, with a very high quality interface and research proven hardware, and yet is low cost. Other similar products can cost 4 to 5 times as much, use low quality graphics and do not use EEG devices with proven qualities.
- The games are engaging and fun with lots of variety and a unifying theme. See game play here.
- Focus Pocus brings together cognitive and state-regulation exercises in one package, and was designed by PhD qualified experts in the area.
- The application can be carried out at home at a time that suits your family.
- Daily reports are available, as well as a comprehensive report on achievements and outcomes, and all data is saved. Other packages do not offer this level of reporting on both cognitive and EEG measures.
- Originating out of the University system itself, NeuroCog has a strong commitment to research through its research partner, The University of Wollongong (Australia).
- The MindWave EEG headset is easy-to-use and measures EEG from the source (i.e. the brain). Other systems claim to be able to measure EEG from locations other than the scalp, with no evidence for this in the scientific literature.
- The MindWave can be used with many other entertainment and educational applications. Other devices are single-purpose, designed only to work specifically with one software package.