Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

Addicted to plasticity

After trying background sound to improve my concentration at a time when events around me militate against it, I've added brain plasticity to the mix. I don't mean the brain-training stuff beloved of the Daily Mail – I'm giving Lumosity a trial run. In brief, it's a collection of quick games for phone, tablet, or desktop tailored to the aspect of your cognitive ability that you want to improve. You're supposed to do a few minutes a day, and the theory is that you gradually rewire your brain.

I like that because it's proven science. And as it doesn't involve scalpels, electrodes, or expensive mind-bending substances, I'm in.

It all started well, and I was directed towards the appropriate exercises for improving the ability to ignore interruptions. Then, unfortunately, my obsessive game-playing side kicked in almost immediately. Few minutes a day, my arse.

The programme gives you your scores so you can see how you're doing, and after three games it tells you that you're done for the day and it'll see you tomorrow. But it also allows you to carry on if you want to, and, naturally, I want to. Oh boy do I want to. It's a real struggle to put it down. I remember having to avoid the Eyezmaze games (Grow Island etc) because I couldn't leave them alone. What I really need is to channel that completely-blinkered-must-keep-doing-this mode from doing the training games into doing the work I need help to focus on.

Now you understand why I'm not a gamer per se. If I dropped my guard, I'd end up doing nothing else. I don't quite get it because I'm definitely a novelty junkie – complete task, move on, find something new – but there's a bit of my brain that leads me to happily play a game until I drop, even if it's repetitive, and also eat the same thing every day.

Speaking of which, it's salmon and Puy lentil time.