‘Beep!’ This is one of the most maddening computer games I’ve ever played. I’m tracking a flock of birds, and when I hit the right one, it explodes with a satisfying ‘phutt’. But as I get better at spotting them, the birds scatter ever more wildly across the screen, and I hear that unforgiving ‘beep’: you missed.
Frankly, I feel like giving up. But many players don’t dare. For this is HawkEye, a brain-training programme that claims it can sharpen my brain beyond simply getting faster at mouse-clicking. Trials have found that older people who play enough hours of this particular kind of game have fewer car crashes — and even, apparently, a lower risk of dementia.
‘Every week someone will ask me, will I be OK if I do crossword puzzles?’ says the bearded neuroscientist Henry Mahncke, CEO of the US company Posit Science, which makes this game.