Over time many people have talked about the positive/negative effects of video games on children. Many have talked about gaming increasing the hand-eye coordination of gamers, while others cite gaming as the source of increased violent tendencies in youth. With all the power that games seem to have to influence children, is it maybe about time that someone try to use that power for good? Akili Labs and Brain Plasticity Inc. have come up with just that idea: using video games to treat ADHD.
An article found on EmaxHealth details the plans of the companies to develop video games aimed at increasing the focus of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, the advanced form of the attention-depriving condition ADD. Affecting 4.1% percent of adults and over double that percentage of children (9%), there’s a pretty big market to try and find treatment for this particular disorder. Considering the popularity and prevalence of video games in the modern era, a well-composed game may do just that.
Akili and Brain Plasticity are currently filing with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create a game that would be prescribed to patients before the use of drugs. If they were able to come up with a successful treatment, they may be able to help counter the effects of ADHD without the side-effects of taking prescription medications. Akili’s goal is to learn to harness the focus that comes with gaming by creating a game that would affect the prefrontal cortex as well as visual and motor parts of the brain. Brain Plasticity, on the other hand, has developed an “ADHD suite” of 25 exercises to train suppression of distraction and alertness as well as other cognitive processes. However, there are some potential risks; a study in Singapore reported that gaming can lead to increased attention problems, working exactly in the opposite direction of the goal.
With the increasing power of technology, anything’s possible. If cleared, this would be the first time that a video game was accepted as a prescription therapy, marking another landmark in the evolution of gaming. I believe I’ll go take two Assassin’s Creed and call you in the morning.