Illinois resident Cassandra Farber ’22 is working remotely this summer to study how video games affect cognition. She hopes to attend medical school after graduation. (Photo courtesy of Cassandra Faber)

Ponder & Play

Ohio Wesleyan Students Use Video Games to Study Cognition, Brain Functions

By Cole Hatcher

Name: Cassandra Farber ’22
Hometown: Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Majors: Neuroscience and Pre-Medicine/Pre-Dentistry
Minor: Chemistry
OWU Connection Experience: Summer Science Research Program

Farber is spending 10 weeks this summer working remotely on a research project titled “Examining Cognitive and Brain Functions Through Video Games.” Farber is working with Emma Zajac ’23 of Des Plains, Illinois, and they are being mentored by Kira Bailey, Ph.D., associate professor of Neuroscience and Psychology.

What We’re Researching 

“The purpose of this research project is to create our own video games, specifically designed to train cognitive skills (such as thinking, remembering, and problem-solving),” Farber says. “The goal is to be able to see how actual gameplay affects cognition compared to utilizing cognitive tests as they are traditionally performed. Hopefully, we will be able to gain some insight into how action video games specifically may be associated with attention and executive functioning.”

Lessons Learned

“Understanding the basics of how we think, obtain knowledge, and process that knowledge to be able to function is, in my opinion, a building block to other topics within the field of neuroscience. In other words, the type of information we are researching ties into the foundations of neuroscience as a whole.”

Connecting to the Future

“My goal is to become a physician, although I am not exactly sure what kind yet. That being said, no matter what profession I end up pursuing, having a better understanding of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind human thought processes can be beneficial to any branch of medicine.

“This research might not end up directly coinciding with what I do on a day-to-day basis in the future, but what I am learning about the brain overall definitely will.”

My Mentor

“My mentor is Dr. Kira Bailey, and she has taught me that when the going gets tough, get creative! Most of the people working on our project both this year and in years past have been primarily neuroscience students who do not have a lot of background knowledge with coding or computers, including myself.

“Dr. Bailey always has the mindset that nothing is impossible, and when we get stuck, she pushes us to look for new solutions and different approaches to cover every avenue of possibilities before we can ever decide that something is not able to be done with our resources.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan 

“I chose Ohio Wesleyan because, compared to other schools I was looking into at the same caliber, OWU was one of the few institutions that actually included neuroscience as a major rather than just a minor. Not only that, but there are different tracks within the major itself giving me even more choice as to what I wanted to study within the field.”

My Plans After Graduation 

“I plan to apply to medical school this coming spring in the hopes of becoming a physician.”