Finnish Doctors Using Video Games To Treat ADHD

from the brainwork dept

As we all know, video games have traditionally been for confusing news organizations, committing virtual war-crimes, and turning the otherwise sweet, virtuous children of the western world into gun-toting real-life Duke Nukems with no regard for human life or decency. Also, turn that damn techno music down. Anyway, much to my surprise, it turns out the past time my parents were constantly telling me would rot away my brain may actually help the brains of those suffering from ADHD.

A group of doctors in Finland are experimenting with electronic games to help those suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder address and manage its symptoms.

The idea isn’t totally out of the blue. The University of Helsinki is well known for its neuroscience, with researchers already investigating how brain activity changes when people do different things. Scientists there have already tinkered around with game play, checking out local Helsinki production Angry Birds to test why the game was so addictive, and it's all part of a push by Finnish developers to build games that do good.

But using games to change people’s brains for health reasons is an ambitious and relatively new concept. Still, Helsinki has the scientists and the gaming companies—Angry Birds developer Rovio is just one—to give the idea a proper look. Now, researchers also have cash: Tapio's company Mental Capital Care received 790,000 euro in funding from Finnish investment board Tekes last year to test out a game designed to cure the symptoms of ADHD.
Using some fairly simple games, such as what appears to be an Asteroids clone called AstroComet, along with some head wear technology designed to study neuroplasticity, a regimen of these games is being used to alter brain function in a way that alleviates the symptoms of ADHD. It's a tantalizing thought, given the now common perception of too many children being on too many drugs these days. If doctors could replace a regimen of mind-altering drugs, which children often hate taking, with a regimen of mind-training targeted video games that are fun enough that kids want to play them, it might end up being as or more effective with a higher adoption rate by the patient.

And, lest you think this is some kind of attempt to cram cookie-cutter games into the treatment plans for everyone, the games are highly tuned for each individual. They have their brainwaves studied over the course of their natural routine via a headset called the Emotiv, an EEG cap that functions like a mobile MRI, and then the researchers study the EEG output to tailor the game to each patient.
“We start the gaming treatment by analyzing the person’s brains, and defining the areas of the brain which are too active or not active enough,” said Tapio. “And then we create a gaming plan that will stimulate those areas of the brain.” The game is tuned to make the tasks accomplishable by thinking in a certain way—a desirable way, from the doctor's point of view. But it’s more than just concentrating.

“It’s not only the activity in brain areas we are trying to affect but also the kind of activity: the different wavelengths, the different types of electromagnetic action—it can’t be too high or too low. We set a goal which will be optimal for the patient,” [research director Ville] Tapio said. “And after we have created an optimal profile for the patient, he will start the gaming and get his brain active to the optimal levels.”
So sorry, kids, but we're still a ways away from being able to tell parents, girlfriends, or boyfriends that Grand Theft Auto is actually helping our brains to function better, but it's important to remember that for all the evils some claim digital games are responsible for, they aren't the evil panacea older generations occasionally claim. They can do good as well.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Cosmicrat, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Till the singularity

    It's all advance preparation for future generations to upload their consciousness into machines and transcend these slow-ass meat processors we call bodies.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    WHAT techno music? I heard that nobody listens to techno.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:33pm

    It's "past time" that you learned either "pastime" or "pass-time".

    pastime n. a way of spending spare time pleasantly; anything done for recreation or diversion, as a hobby

    Didn't we go round on that on conjugating "pass" once before? And you insisted your usage was correct?

    Anyhoo, one can't extrapolate palliatives for the brain-damaged into positives for the unafflicted, any more than chemotherapy is at all desirable except with severe cancer. If you hadn't rotted your brain with violent video games and utterly wasted those hours instead of doing something even slightly uplifting -- tiddlywinks would have been better than pretending to murder people -- you'd have the capacity to see that.

    Techdirt! When tired of substance, get fluffed here!

    12:33:10[n-090-1]

     

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  4.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

    Heh, funny, I recall that some people went "your kid can't have ADHD, he sits and plays for hours on that video game!" without realizing that a video game has something constantly happening and you totally immerse yourself into it, unlike most other things, so, yes, you CAN have ADHD and focus on something like a video game for hours on end.

     

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  5.  
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    Jay (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

    Hold the phone...

    Tapio's company Mental Capital Care received 790,000 euro in funding from Finnish investment board Tekes last year to test out a game designed to cure the symptoms of ADHD.

    Perhaps there's a different perception to ADHD that should be explored.

    One of the people I follow would be Thom Hartmann who has a number of books on the issue of ADHD. He explains it to be a gene that people are born with.

    It may explain the types of hypersensitivity that certain individuals have in different arenas to which they have to learn how to adapt to a different environment to one that our omnivorous ancestors grew up in.

    It would be very intriguing if they picked up the research and saw if it worked for what they needed it for.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    out of glue, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    Re: It's "past time" that you learned either "pastime" or "pass-time".

    Troll Translation:

    I'm just another lonely guy with nothing better to do his time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:58pm

    Re:

    Neither spelling was used in the article, you twat, and neither did the story advocate "violent video game" playing, but that's not a surprise because you make it clear you don't read anything.

    DMCAed, you fuckwad!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Nigel (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

    "Anyhoo, one can't extrapolate palliatives for the brain-damaged into positives for the unafflicted"

    Good thing no one tried. Except for you that is.


    N.

     

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  9.  
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    out of boob, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Re:

    That's our OOTB

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blew_john_kerry, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 7:29pm

    Arrr fuck you

    My grandpa had a method of dealing with ADHD, it was called beating my ass and I have to say it worked pretty good.

    Too bad that type of thing is almost taboo these days because it worked wonders.

    Fucked up in school > Got my ass beat > Stopped fucking up at school > Success

    Fucked up at home > Got my ass beat > Stopped fucking up at home > Success

    Fucked up in public > Got my ass beat > Stopped fucking up in public > Success

    Stole a 50 cent candy bar when I was six > Got my ass beat half to death then forced to tell them what I did and to top of it I was forced to work at the store for the day > Never did that again because I learned my lesson and then some. > Success
    Shit, I'm grown and the thought of stealing anything scares me half to death and my grandpa has been dead for 15 years.

    Not saying violence is the answer, but it sure does work good, very good. The only thing I was never disciplined for is my dirty mouth, but my family are all sailors.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 10:37pm

    Re: It's "past time" that you learned either "pastime" or "pass-time".

    Absolutely nothing you talk about in your waste of my life span is mentioned in the article. Just another distraction from the resident mentally deficient troll wannabe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:28pm

    " The idea isnít totally out of the blue. "

    Dammit, how many times must I say "speak not of the evil one lest you summon him" until you learn?

     

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  13.  
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    jglennon, Nov 5th, 2013 @ 5:28am

    This isn't newsworthy

    Really? I was a school principal until retired. We used Play Attention (www.playattention.com)with our ADHD kids and this was back in 2000. It uses neurofeedback with computer games. Think they've been out since 1994. Two published studies. Worked incredibly well for our kids. So, how is this article cutting edge news? Not!

     

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  14.  
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    Mark Harrill (profile), Nov 5th, 2013 @ 6:20am

    Ender's Game

    Didn't they steal this idea from the Mind Game in Ender's Game?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2013 @ 8:51pm

    I think we'll be playing these consoles for a long time to come. It seems like Sony and Microsoft aren't interested in continuing to develop consoles. According to this report, we've reached our limit, technologically, so no more next gen systems after the PS4 and Xbox One.

    http://gameshiki.com/index.php?id=68

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Edward Fruitman, Mar 15th, 2014 @ 2:48am

    Well, it means treatment of ADHD is not the main objective, but they are trying to develop games that can be recommended to people diagnosed with ADHD. How do you think about it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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