Laura Helsby

Laura Helsby is a HCI researcher with a background in psychology, currently examining how features of games might be beneficial to wellbeing and mood. She is particularly interested in how games might be able to improve executive functioning and any corresponding improvements in wellbeing or depressive symptoms. Executive function encompasses a range of cognitive processes such as task-switching, attentional control, working memory and inhibition. Cognitive dysfunction is a symptom of Major Depressive Disorder, and can commonly affect many people outside this condition. Some specific action game mechanics have been linked to certain executive functions (Mondéjar et al) and Laura would like to further examine the link between game mechanics and executive function on a wider scale through the use of existing games which feature these mechanics. The first stage of this is to find out what kinds of games people with depressive symptoms are usually drawn to, thereby identifying current play habits and ways to reach these populations. This will ideally lead to a longer term training programme to tackle executive function directly. Laura has achieved an MSc in Foundations in Clinical Psychology from Newcastle University and a BSc in Psychology from the University of York. In her spare time, Laura enjoys denying she is a computer scientist at all. Her hobbies include reviewing books professionally, board game nights and of course, playing video games.