Playing mind games

MindWeavers, an Oxford University spin-out company that produces software that alters brain function, is set to launch a series of ‘brain exercise’ computer games after securing £558,000 of funding.

The spinout company creates and sells software that exercises specific areas of the brain to improve human performance. According to Mindweaver, the software is based on research that has shown that human neural systems are ‘plastic’ and malleable, constantly changing throughout life, and that effective instruction can alter brain function.

In particular, developments in neuroscience have improved the understanding off how the brain learns languages.

One of MindWeavers’ products, Phonomena, is designed to correct a neurological weakness that makes it difficult for some children to distinguish phonemes that make up a word. Delivered in a computer game format, Phonomena ‘retrains’ the faulty area of the brain by enhancing the neural pathways that process sounds. Published results of experiments with the software proved that children’s reading, writing and spelling improved by 2.4 years after six hours use over a four-week period.

Chief Executive at MindWeaver, Bruce Robinson, said: ‘Phonomena currently provides support for children with language-based learning difficulties. We will now be developing additional versions of Phonomena aimed at parents who are concerned that their children are falling behind at school or who simply want to give their children the best start in life.’

The game is already being used in homes and schools across the UK and is recommended by speech and language therapists.

As part of an expansion of its software range, MindWeavers is launching MindFit in September, a ‘brain exercise’ computer game targeted at adults wishing to keep their minds active to delay and protect against the effects of ageing.

Other products being clinically tested include software that protects brain health in patients who have been diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment and early Alzheimers.

MindWeavers has converted to a public limited company in anticipation of a planned listing on the PLUS Markets for which it will be looking to raise another £1m in the future.