Huntington’s Patients May Find Computer Games Help Improve Thinking and Movement

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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The English Parliament recently listened to a young scientist, Emma Yhnell, 25, explain her research into the potential of computer games to “train the brain” of Huntington’s disease (HD) patients. The research associate from Cardiff University in Wales attended Parliament on March 7 to present her novel approach to a range of politicians and experts.

Already selected from hundreds of other applicants, Yhnell’s research will be judged against several research projects in the only national competition in the field. Yhnell hopes that, by training the brain with computer games, Huntington’s disease patients might be able to improve their thinking skills or regain some control over their muscles.

“What better place to talk about science and research than in the Houses of Parliament,” Yhnell said in a press release. “Although my research is focused on Huntington’s disease, using games to train the brain can also be helpful in other diseases and in healthy people who want to keep their brains fit and healthy.  I hope that I will get to talk to a range of people about my research and get them to have a go at the brain training games.”

“This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers,” said Stephen Metcalfe MP, chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. “These early career engineers, mathematicians, and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Yhnell’s work is now up for a gold (with an additional £3,000), silver (£2,000) or bronze (£1,000) prize in her Biological and Biomedical Sciences subcategory of the competition.