games have been criticized because they can lead to inactivity. But
that bad reputation could be changing as neuroscience researchers test
the games as a treatment for ADHD, autism, depression and even
A group of
innovative companies is combining gaming technology with the
principles of cognitive psychology to create a new way to treat
neurological illnesses. New research suggests that action video games
can sharpen playersí ability to concentrate and may have other
medical or health benefits. For example, in September 2013, a
cognitive neuroscience researcher at the University of California-San
Francisco published a paper in the scientific journal
"Nature" which showed that playing a specially designed
driving game called "Neuroracer" arrested age-related
cognitive decline in senior citizens. Now, a Boston-based game maker
named Akili Interactive Labs is developing a tablet-based game similar
to "Neuroracer" called "EVO." The game is being
tested in clinical trials in the hope that the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) will approve it for treatment of Alzheimerís
disease as well as depression and ADHD.
brain fitness games like those offered online at Lumosity.com claim to
help train memory, though the company has no proof of its claims.
"EVO" differentiates itself because the manufacturer wants
FDA approval and acceptance by the mainstream medical community.
The use of these
games would be a change from current medical treatment, which is
medication. In all likelihood, the games would be combined with drugs
and other therapies.
currently are being used in southeastern Wisconsin as therapy, too.
Dr. Amit Jhaveri, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist
with Aurora Health Care, specializes in the management of diagnoses,
including adult traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord, stroke and
neurodegenerative disorders. In some instances, he suggests video
game-type programs to help patients in their recovery.
There is growing
evidence that virtual reality gaming systems like Nintendoís Wii can
help stroke victims regain some arm function and improve balance. It
works because the brain apparently has the ability to ramp up function
in one area to compensate for injury in another area. Such games can
help to "rewire" those brain functions. Itís also more fun
than the usual therapy routine, which means patients will stick with
trials testing games like "EVO" go beyond what is presently
being done. Itís very possible that patients with ADHD or depression
may get a prescription for a completely new type of medical treatment
within the foreseeable future.