Babies and children * Young people * Mental wellbeing

Brainwave operated computer game treats hyperactive children

play attention treats ADHD Helps reduce impulsive behaviour

A new brainwave operated computer game developed in the UK has proven to be effective in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.

To play the game, the child wears what looks like a modified bicycle helmet on their head. The helmet picks up their brain activity in the form of EEG waves related to attention. These are relayed to the computer running the game.

As long as the child concentrates on the game then it will continue to run. But if their attention wanders the game stops.

The researchers found at the end of the study that the children’s impulsive behaviour was reduced, compared to a control group who had not used the system.

The system is called Play Attention and was supplied by a not-for-profit community interest company, Games for Life, three times a week for twelve weeks.

Study leader Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology commented "Children with a diagnosis of ADHD find it hard to control their impulses and inhibit inappropriate behaviour."

Dr Pine added: "This can lead to educational and behavioural difficulties. The Play Attention method may prevent long-term problems by helping the children to be less impulsive and more self-controlled."

Games for Life is also working on means of assessing learning in children with severe communication and physical difficulties by a thought-controlled computer game method.

MD of Games for Life, Ian Glasscock, said: "Mind-controlled educational computer games technology is the only intervention shown to reduce the core symptoms of ADHD - historically medication may have been prescribed for the child."

More information

This article was published on Fri 8 January 2010

Image © Games for life

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