Title:
Cognitive Fitness
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game is presented for playing, the game being correlated to one or more cognitive attributes. A score is obtained for the game, and based on the score, a cognitive profile is updated. The cognitive profile includes an assessment associated with cognitive attributes, including the cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated. An updated cognitive profile is displayed.



Inventors:
Roberts, Erik Lincoln (Medford, MA, US)
Wolfson, Nathaniel Caleb (Medford, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/623642
Publication Date:
07/17/2008
Filing Date:
01/16/2007
Assignee:
Eons, Inc. (Charlestown, MA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILLIAMS, ROSS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & RICHARDSON P.C. (BO) (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: presenting a game for playing, the game being correlated to one or more cognitive attributes; obtaining score for the game; based on the score, updating a cognitive profile, the cognitive profile including an assessment, wherein the assessment is associated with one or more of a plurality of cognitive attributes, the plurality of cognitive attributes including the one or more cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated; displaying an updated cognitive profile.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to memory.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to language ability.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to executive function.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to visio-spatial ability.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to motor function.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to life expectancy.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the score is based at least in part on a length of time the game is played.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein updating the cognitive profile includes modifying numbers associated with the cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated.

10. The method of claim 1, further comprising obtaining a life expectancy based at least in part on the score for the game.

11. The method of claim 1, further comprising revising the cognitive profile based on a passage of time since determining the score for the game.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein revising the cognitive profile includes decreasing the number associated with a cognitive attribute included in the plurality of cognitive attributes, the decreasing being based on the passage of time.

13. The method of claim 1, further comprising correlating the game to the one or more cognitive attributes.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein the assessment includes a qualitative assessment.

15. The method of claim 1, wherein displaying the updated cognitive profile also includes displaying a performance over time, the performance over time being based on the updated cognitive profile and one or more previous cognitive profiles.

16. One or more machine-readable media comprising instructions for causing one or more processing devices to: read from, or write to, a cognitive profile, the cognitive profile including assessments, each assessment being associated with one or more of a plurality of cognitive attributes; execute a game associated with one or more cognitive attributes in the plurality; determine a score for the game; and update the cognitive profile based on the score.

17. The use or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to memory.

18. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to language ability.

19. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to executive function.

20. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to visio-spatial ability.

21. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to motor function.

22. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the cognitive profile includes an assessment relating to life expectancy.

23. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to determine a score for the game include instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to determine the score based at least in part on a length of time the game is played.

24. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to update th cognitive profile based on the score include instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to modify numbers associated with the cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated.

25. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, further comprising instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to obtain a life expectancy based at least in part on the score for the game.

26. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, further comprising instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to revise the cognitive profile based on a passage of time since determining the score for the game.

27. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 26, wherein the instructions for causing the one or more processors to read from, or write to, the cognitive profile further includes instructions for causing the one or more processors to decrease, based on the passage of time, a number associated with a cognitive attribute included in the plurality of cognitive attributes.

28. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, further comprising instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to correlate the game to the one or more cognitive attributes.

29. The one or more machine-readable media of claim 16, wherein the assessment includes a qualitative assessment.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates generally to neurological health, and relates in particular to cognitive fitness.

BACKGROUND

As a person ages, their cognitive abilities generally tend to decline. Decline in a person's cognitive ability is sometimes linked with other conditions associated with advanced age, such as Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, along with a person's physical health, the person's cognitive abilities can be relevant in determining the person's life expectancy. One way for people to help maintain their cognitive abilities as they age is to engage is novel, complex brain activity. Common examples of novel, complex brain activity involve playing certain games.

SUMMARY

In general, in one aspect, this application describes presenting a game for playing, where the game is correlated to one or more cognitive attributes; obtaining a score for the game; and based on the score, updating a cognitive profile, where the cognitive profile includes an assessment. The assessment is associated with one or more of a plurality of cognitive attributes. The plurality of cognitive attributes include the one or more cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated. An updated cognitive profile is displayed to a user.

Particular implementations may have one or more of the following features. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to memory. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to language ability. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to executive function. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to visio-spatial ability. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to motor function. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to life expectancy. The score may be based at least in part on a length of time the game is played. Updating the cognitive profile may include modifying numbers associated with the cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated. Obtaining a life expectancy may be based at least in part on the score for the game. Revising the cognitive profile may be based on a passage of time since determining the score for the game. Revising the cognitive profile may include decreasing the number associated with a cognitive attribute included in the plurality of cognitive attributes, the decreasing being based on the passage of time. The game may be correlated to the one or more cognitive attributes. The assessment may include a qualitative assessment. Displaying the updated cognitive profile may also include displaying a performance over time, with the performance over time being based on the updated cognitive profile and one or more previous cognitive profiles.

In general, in another aspect, this application describes one or more machine-readable media bearing instructions for causing one or more processing devices to read from, or write to, a cognitive profile, with the cognitive profile including assessments. Each assessment may be associated with one or more of a plurality of cognitive attributes. The instructions also cause the one or more processing devices to execute a game associated with one or more cognitive attributes in the plurality; determine a score for the game; and update the cognitive profile based on the score.

Particular implementations may include one or more of the following features. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to memory. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to language ability. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to executive function. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to visio-spatial ability. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to motor function. The cognitive profile may include an assessment relating to life expectancy. The instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to determine a score for the game may include instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to determine the score based at least in part on a length of time the game is played. The instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to update the cognitive profile based on the score may include instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to modify numbers associated with the cognitive attributes to which the game is correlated. The one or more machine-readable media instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to obtain a life expectancy based at least in part on the score for the game. The one or more machine-readable media of claim, further comprising instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to revise the cognitive profile based on a passage of time since determining the score for the game. The instructions for causing the one or more processors to read from, or write to, the cognitive profile further may include instructions for causing the one or more processors to decrease, based on the passage of time, a number associated with a cognitive attribute included in the plurality of cognitive attributes. The one or more machine-readable media may also include instructions for causing the one or more processing devices to correlate the game to the one or more cognitive attributes. The assessment may include a qualitative assessment.

Other aspects include other combinations of the features recited above and other features, expressed as methods, apparatus, systems, program products, machine-readable media, and in other ways. Other features and advantages will be apparent from the description and from the claims

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic depiction of a cognitive fitness system.

FIG. 2 is a schematic depiction of a game module.

FIG. 3 is a schematic depiction of a cognitive profile.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart for operating the cognitive fitness system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Engaging in novel, complex brain activity, such as playing games, tends to slow the decline of a person's cognitive abilities as the person ages. However, a particular novel, complex activity may impact some cognitive attributes more than others.

To more effectively slow the decline of cognitive abilities, a person engages in a variety of different activities that are collectively beneficial to a spectrum of cognitive attributes. By way of analogy, a person more thoroughly maintains their physical fitness by exercising several different muscle groups, as opposed to only exercising one specific muscle.

Referring to FIG. 1, a cognitive fitness system 10 includes a front end 12, a games module 14, a cognitive profile 16, and a life expectancy calculator 18. The components 12-18 of the cognitive fitness system 10 are in mutual data communication, either directly or indirectly through other components. Furthermore, the cognitive fitness system 10 is in data communication with a user 11 through the front end 12. Although only one user 11 is shown, the cognitive fitness system 10 can accommodate any number of users 11, with each user 11 having an individual cognitive profile 16.

The data communication may be implemented in any manner. This includes, for example, wireless communication, or direct physical connection using a wire or fiber optic cable. Each component 12-18 of the cognitive fitness system 10 may be individually implemented as software, hardware, or a combination of software and hardware. For example each component may be implemented as one or more machine-readable media bearing instructions to cause a machine, e.g. a computer, to operate as described below; or one or more computer processors configured to operate as described below. There is no requirement that a given component be implemented on the same machine-readable medium or machine as another component. For example, the life expectancy calculator 18 may be implemented on a computer located in one geographic location, and the games module 14 may be implemented on a computer located in an entirely different geographic location.

The front end 12 presents information to the user 11. Such information includes, for example, means through which the user 11 may navigate, visual or auditory gameplay information, or information in the user's cognitive profile 16. Additionally, the front end 12 accepts input from the user 11. Such input includes, for example: commands to navigate through menus and gameplay input. The front end 12 passes relevant input received from the user to the other relevant system components 14-18. For example, in some implementations, gameplay input is passed to the games module 14 through the front end 12.

Referring to FIG. 2, the games module 14 includes one or more games 20, with each game 20 associated to at least one cognitive attribute 22. In FIG. 2, there are n cognitive attributes 22 shown, with the i-th cognitive attribute 22 having mi games 20 associated with it. In general, there can be any number of cognitive attributes 22, and any number of games 20 associated with a particular cognitive attribute 22.

A single game 20 may be associated with more than one cognitive attribute 22. In this case, the association may be (but need not be) weighed. A weighted association is one in which the game 20 is associated with more than one cognitive attribute 22 in specified proportions. For example, a game 20 may be associated 20% to one cognitive attribute 22, and 80% to another cognitive attribute 22.

Generally, a game 20 is associated with a cognitive attribute 22 if playing the game 20 beneficially affects the cognitive attribute 22. For example, it is currently believed that doing crossword puzzles beneficially affects a person's language abilities. Thus, if a particular game 20 includes a crossword puzzle, and “language” is one of the cognitive attributes 22, then the particular game 20 may be associated with the “language” cognitive attribute 22.

One situation in which a game 20 may be associated with more than one cognitive attribute 22 is when the game 20 involves novel, complex activity that beneficially affects more than one cognitive attribute 22. For example, suppose cognitive attributes 22 include “motor skills” and “memory,” as those terms are defined below. An electronic billiards game, in which the user is to produce collisions of simulated billiard balls so that the billiard balls enter pockets on a billiard table, may be associated with motor function. A trivia game, in which the user is to recall the capital city of a displayed country, may be associated with memory. A modified game billiard game, in which the billiard balls are labeled with capital cities, the pockets on the billiard table are labeled with countries, and the user is to send the ball labeled with a particular capital city to the pocket labeled with the corresponding country, may be associated with both motor function and memory. Furthermore, it may be determined that the motor-function aspects of this hybrid billiard game are more pronounced than the memory aspects, and therefore the association to motor function may be more heavily weighted than memory.

In some implementations, the particular cognitive attributes 22 are determined by one or more people skilled in neuro- or cognitive science, and one or more people skilled in neuro- or cognitive science associate each game 20 to one or more cognitive attributes 22. In some implementations, the cognitive attributes 22 are chosen so that, in aggregate, they account for a broad cross-section of attributes that benefit from novel, complex brain activity. For example, the cognitive attributes 22 may include memory (the ability to retain and recall past and present information); language (producing and understanding spoken and written communication); executive function (controlling and applying one's mental skills); motor function (producing body movement through the interaction of the brain, nerves, and muscles); visio-spatial skills (discrimination, perception, tracking, and attention to objects visually). Of course, these particular cognitive attributes 22 reflect a current but developing understanding of cognition. Thus, the cognitive fitness system 10 may employ other cognitive attributes 22 instead of, or in addition to these cognitive attributes 22.

In some implementations, games associated with memory include “matchup” (in which the user 11 is presented with an even number of tiles, each containing an image, and the user 11 is supposed to sequentially uncover tiles with identical images); “5 spots” (in which the user 11 is presented with two images that differ in five locations; the user is supposed to locate the differences); and trivia-based games.

In some implementations, games associated with language include crossword puzzles; Scrabble™ or other games in which the user forms words by permuting a set of letters; and Wheel of Fortune™; or other games in which the user is supposed to determine a word or phrase based on as little information or possible.

In some implementations, games associated with executive function include mahjong; sudoku (in which the user 11 is to reconstruct a 9×9 Latin square in which certain 3×3 sub-squares contain the digits 1-9 exactly once); and games in which the user 11 is to assemble groups of three or more like-colored objects, which then vanish from the playing area.

In some implementations, games associated with motor function include “Diner Dash” (in which the user 11 simulates a restaurant waitress, and is supposed to seat diners, take their order, and clear tables at a sufficiently quick pace), “Gold Miner Vegas” (in which the user 11 simulates a prospector, and is supposed to gather an amount gold in an allotted time); and a bowling simulator.

In some implementations, games associated with visio-spatial skills include jigsaw puzzles, and puzzle games in which the user 11 is supposed to form groups of three or more like-colored objects, which then vanish from the playing area, resulting in a reconfiguration of other objects in the playing area.

Referring to FIG. 3, the cognitive profile 16 of the user 11 includes an assessment 24 of the user in each of the cognitive attributes 22. The assessment can be qualitative (for example, “advanced”, “proficient”, “learning”, etc.) or numerical. In some implementations, the cognitive profile 16 may include a life expectancy 26 for the user 11. The life expectancy 26 in the cognitive profile 16 is provided by the life expectancy calculator 18 (see FIG. 1). In some implementations, the cognitive profile 16 also includes an overall cognitive assessment 27. The overall cognitive assessment 27 may be based on a combination of the various assessments 24 of the cognitive attributes 22. The overall cognitive assessment 27 may also be based on other factors, such as the age or cognitive history of the user 11.

The life expectancy calculator 18 may be of any type that considers a user's cognitive fitness level in estimating the user's life expectancy. For example, one such life expectancy calculator offered by Living to 100™ calculates a life expectancy based on the user's physical characteristics (including age and weight), lifestyle (including stress levels, diet, sleep levels, and amount of exercise), family medical history, and cognitive fitness.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 4, in a process 28 to operate the cognitive fitness system 10, one first selects a game 20 to populate the game module 14 (action 29). This game 20 is associated with one or more cognitive attributes 22 (action 30). The association may be weighted. In some implementations, the association of a game 20 to a cognitive attribute 22 is made by a person with training in cognitive science. Actions 29 and 30 may be repeated until the games module 14 is populated with sufficiently many games 20, in the judgment of the cognitive fitness system's proprietor. There is no requirement that the proprietor of the cognitive fitness system 10 perform actions 29 and 30, or cause actions 29 and 30 to be performed by a third party. For example, actions 29 and 30 can be performed by adding a game 20 that is “pre-associated” to one or more cognitive attributes 22 to the game module 14.

Eventually, a user 11 requests to play a game 20 (action 32). The cognitive fitness system 10 presents the game to the user 11 (action 34), who then plays the game 20 (action 36). At the conclusion of the game 20, the user 11 is given a score (action 38).

Each game 20 may be equipped with its own scoring mechanism. For example, some games 20 may award points based on the number of successful moves the user 11 is able make, some games 20 may award points based on quickly completing an assigned task. etc. If a game 20 is not equipped with its own scoring mechanism, the cognitive fitness system 10 can provide a game score. For example, in some implementations, the cognitive fitness system 10 provides a score based on the amount of time the user 11 plays the game 20.

Based in part on the score provided in action 38, the cognitive fitness system 10 updates the user's cognitive profile 16 (action 40). In some implementations, updating the user's cognitive profile 16 is accomplished by allocating the numerical score provided in action 38 among the cognitive attributes 22 with which the game 20 is associated. For example, if the user plays a game associated with motor skills and earns one thousand points from playing the game, the cognitive fitness system 10 increases a numerical assessment 24 (see FIG. 3) in “motor skill” by one thousand.

If the game 20 is associated with more than one cognitive attribute 22, then the cognitive fitness system 10 may apportion the score among the assessments 24 of each cognitive attribute 22 according to the weights in the association. If no weights are specified, the cognitive fitness system 10 may apportion the score equally among the assessments 24.

In addition to updating the cognitive profile 16 based on the user's score in the game 20, the cognitive fitness system 10 may (but need not) update the cognitive profile based on an interval of time since which the user 11 has last played a game 20. For example, the cognitive fitness system 10 may reduce one or more assessments 24 by a pre-determined amount based on a period of the user's inactivity in playing games 20.

In some implementations, updating the cognitive profile 16 also includes updating the user's life expectancy 26. Updating the user's life expectancy 26 includes passing the score provided in action 38 or updated assessments 24 to the life expectancy calculator 18, along with other user information (for example, the user's age, gender, weight, health history, or other information needed by the life expectancy calculator 18).

After updating the cognitive profile 16 in action 40, the cognitive fitness system 10 displays the updated cognitive profile 16 to the user 11 (action 42). In some implementations, the cognitive fitness system 10 may display the updated cognitive profile 16 together with previous cognitive profiles, indicating a performance history of the user 11. Moreover, the cognitive fitness system 10 can display a subset of the cognitive profile 16; e.g., the assessment 24 of a single cognitive attribute 22. The user 11 then decides whether to play again (action 44). If so, actions 32-44 are repeated.

In addition to an abundance of spare time or the user's personal desire, the decision to play again in action 44 may be based on the updated cognitive profile 16. For example, the user 11 may have periodic goals or a predetermined regiment to maintain a desired level of cognitive fitness, as described by the user's assessments 24 in the various cognitive attributes 22. In one example, the user 11 may determine, with the advice of a physician or cognitive scientist, that keeping the assessment 24 of each cognitive attribute 22 at a particular level will help stave off the effects of age-related dementia. In another example, the user 11 may have noticed a recent deterioration of one of his own cognitive attributes 22, for example memory, and may wish to devote particular attention to this attribute 22 in order to help regain his full capacity.

Process 28, and any modification thereto described above (referred to collectively as “the process”), are not limited to used with the hardware and software described above: they may fine applicability in any computing or processing environment and with any type of machine that is capable of running machine-readable instructions. The process can be implemented in digital electronic circuitry, computer hardware, firmware, software, or combinations thereof.

The process can be implemented via a computer program product, e.g., a computer program tangibly embodied in an information carrier, e.g., in a machine-readable storage device or in a propagated signal, for execution by, or to control the operation of, data processing apparatus, e.g., a programmable processor, a computer, or multiple computers. A computer program can be written in any form of programming language, including compiled or interpreted languages, and it can be deployed in any form, including as a stand-alone program or as a module, component, subroutine, or other unit suitable for use in a computing environment. A computer program can be deployed to be executed on one computer or on multiple computers at one site or distributed across multiple sites and interconnected by a communication network.

Actions associated with the processes can be performed by one or more programmable processors executing one or more computer programs to perform the functions of the processes. The actions can also be performed by, and the processes can be implemented as, special purpose logic circuitry, e.g., an FPGA (field programmable gate array) and/or an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit).

Processors suitable for the execution of a computer program include, by way of example, both general and special purpose microprocessors, and any one or more processors of any kind of digital computer. Generally, a processor will receive instructions and data from a read-only memory or a random access memory or both. Elements of a computer include a processor for executing instructions and one or more memory devices for storing instructions and data. Generally, a computer will also include, or be operatively coupled to receive data from, or transfer data to, or both, one or more mass storage devices for storing data, e.g., magnetic, magneto-optical disks, or optical disks. Information carriers suitable for embodying computer program instructions and data include all forms of non-volatile memory, including by way of example, semiconductor memory devices, e.g., EPROM, EEPROM, and flash memory devices; magnetic disks, e.g., internal hard disks or removable disks; magneto-optical disks; and CD-ROM and DVD-ROM disks.

The processors can be implemented in a computing system that includes a back-end component, e.g., as a data server, or that includes a middleware component. e.g., an application server, or that includes a front-end component, e.g., a client computer having a graphical user interface or a Web browser through which a user can interact with an implementation of the processor, or any combination of such back-end, middleware, or front-end components. The components of the system can be interconnected by any form or medium of digital data communications, e.g., a communication network. Examples of communication networks include a LAN and a WAN, e.g., the Internet.

Activities associated with the processes can be rearranged and/or one or more such activities can be omitted to achieve the same results described herein. All or part of the processes may be fully automated, meaning that they operate without user intervention, or interactive, meaning that all or part of the processes may include some user intervention.

Elements of different implementations described herein may be combined to form other implementations not specifically set forth above. Other implementations not specifically described herein are also within the scope of the following claims.