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This Video Game Could Help Kids with ADHD

December 6, 2017

Akili Interactive Labs, a company based in Boston, hopes to get FDA approval next year for a video game designed to help treat kids with ADHD. Having reportedly met its primary goal, 348 children between the ages of 8 and 12 diagnosed with ADHD had been observed. Those who had played the action-packed game on a tablet through the course of four weeks had statistically seen significant improvements on metrics of attention and inhibitory control. This was all in comparison to children who had been given different action-driven video games designed as a placebo.
It has been recommended that kids complete a 30-minute session of the game five days a week for four weeks. Akili CEO Eddie Martucci said they are, “directly targeting the key neurological pathways that control attention and impulsivity,” through the game.

The video game sends the player down a molten lava river and through an icy wonderland. In the end, they are rewarded with stars and points when their tasks have been completed. The game has been as a delivery system for targeted algorithms that activate certain neural networks. Other games and apps that assist patients in managing their diseases usually deliver cognitive behavioral therapy or simply help patients track symptoms or monitor their glucose levels.

While the results were positive, some remain skeptical. Parents and physicians had subjectively observed the same amount of improvement in the behavior of the children whether they were playing the placebo game or the therapeutic game. The game has also not been tested and compared to ADHD medications or psychotherapy to see if it is just as effective.

artucci also said that patients are experiencing direct physiological activation when engaging with the video game, which gives a nice glimpse of data to cognitive and general clinical improvement.

Some adverse side effects (only 11 of 348) participants experienced were mainly headaches and frustration. These, overall, are much milder than the usual side effects associated with the drugs that are often used to treat ADHD.

The Boston based company is also experimenting with a similar version of the game to help treat adults with depression as well as the therapy’s potential to help patients with pediatric autism and multiple sclerosis.

(Via Scientific American https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/this-video-game-may-help-kids-with-adhd/)