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Videogames Used to Treat ADHD 275

Posted by Zonk
from the playing-mario-as-therapy dept.
deeptrace writes "USA today has an article about a videogame based treatment for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It uses NASA derived technology to measure brainwave activity while playing videogames. Clinical psychologist Henry Owens says 'If they just play videogames on their own, they will zone out. When they play on this system, if they zone out [as detected by brainwave activity], the videogame doesn't respond any more' This is supposed to help the patient increase the ability to focus and concentrate."
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Videogames Used to Treat ADHD

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  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:46PM (#14903062)
    That's perfect for
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:17PM (#14903166)
      Reminds me of a joke ...

      Q. What's the best solution to deal with an ADHD kid?
      A. Send them to concentration camp!
      • Re:Great! (Score:2, Funny)

        by Descalzo (898339)
        Q: How many kids with ADHD does it take to change a light bulb?
        A: I don't know, how ma
        Q: Wanna ride bikes?
        • Re:Great! (Score:4, Informative)

          by Intruger (637870) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:01PM (#14903594)
          They're selling a crippled EEG machine for $500 which doesn't even give the read out of the brain activities. If you are semi serious about this, I would suggest you take a look at OpenEEG [sourceforge.net]. It's a opensource DIY modular EEG machine that costs around $200 to build (there is also a partialy build version available). There are several free games, and the best thing is, it's not limit to the Playstation (supports Win, Mac, Linux, PocketPC, etc.).

          Of course if you want to make sense of the readings, you need to know how to interpret the brainwave patterns. There are several book on this subject; the more popular ones are:
          Getting Started with Neurofeedback [amazon.com]
          The High-Performance Mind [amazon.com]
          • It's a opensource DIY modular EEG machine that costs around $200 to build (there is also a partialy build version available).

            Note to entrepreneurs:

            I'm very willing to pay for a complete OpenEEG kit. Sure, I could build one myself, but if I'm trying to treat ADD symptoms with it, how likely is that? I already have a bunch of unfinished projects cluttering up the place. What I want is a solution.
        • I love the variant: "ADD stands for Attention Deficit LETS GO RIDE BIKES!"
  • by Watson Ladd (955755) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:46PM (#14903063)
    Mabey this will shut up the videogame= hyperactive folks.
    • No. Not really. I realize you spent about 5 seconds coming up with your comment, but there is a body of evidence linking hyperactivity and video games. It is fascinating how a certain group of people will laugh at head in the sand global warming deniers. They will laugh at new earth IDers. They will point to all the evidence and (rightly so) declare that they are denying obvious facts.

      Studies have indeed shown a causal relationship between video games and hyperactivity, attention deficit, and violence. Does
      • No. Not really. I realize you spent about 5 seconds coming up with your comment, but there is a body of evidence linking hyperactivity and video games. It is fascinating how a certain group of people will laugh at head in the sand global warming deniers. They will laugh at new earth IDers. They will point to all the evidence and (rightly so) declare that they are denying obvious facts.

        Has it occured to you that videogames appeal to ADDers because there is always an immediate reward in videogames and that

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Studies have indeed shown a causal relationship between video games and hyperactivity, attention deficit, and violence.

        You know, I get really, really tired of people pulling the "studies have shown" card. It would be nice (better than nice, it would decrease the flow of FUD on the internet and IRL) if people were held to the same standards that people publishing scholarly papers were held to; namely, publishing your sources. Watch and learn, kids:

        Most studies [pbs.org] found a correlation, not a causal relationshi
      • WHOA! STOP THE PRESSES! You mean, I can't just put my children in front of Linux computers as the sole healthy way to raise them? I mean, I'll at least feed them twinkies and soda like all good computer need...

        Dude whats your deal, are you new here?
      • Nobody is debating global warming, they are debating the cause behind it and whether it's entirely man-made, or could have natural roots.

        And then of course, there are some people who would just draw conclusions without any evidence and pool everybody they disagree with into the "those others" camp.

        Gee.
      • Whoa dude! As a parent of an ADD kid (clinically tested), I gotta tell you you're off base. ADD kids tend to gravitate towards because it suits their attention-span, not the other way around. As for hyperactivity, I think what you're really refering to is an age-old problem called the "Sesame Street Attention Span". Instant gratification and sound-bite information can lead kids to develop certain expectations about their world. When those expectations are not met (like...in real life), we call it hyperacti
      • Studies have indeed shown a causal relationship between video games and hyperactivity, attention deficit, and violence.

        Some groups claim that yes (especially in the hysterical states of america) but haven't shown any proof.
      • Studies have indeed shown a causal relationship between video games and hyperactivity, attention deficit, and violence. Does this mean we burn all games?

        No, that means we put you in the same boat with the assholes who say they only killed 15 people because they ate too many twinkies, the Moral Majority condemning Alice Cooper for making kids queer, the morons who declare that violent movies, TV, etc makes people violent, the mental midgets playing records backwards to hear the hidden Satanic messages, and

  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:46PM (#14903064) Homepage
    How about encouraging the "patient" to go outside or do something constructive, instead of coercing him into repeating a mindless task for no real reward. Oh, right - because that's what he would have done ANYWAY if he weren't one of the majority who by about age six are infected [reciprocality.org] with an affinity for pointless busywork, and an inability to learn except by rote.

    I have no objection to psychotropic drugs and behavioral treatments when used judiciously to relieve real suffering or addiction. But using these tools to homogenize children to the societal norm is absolutely repugnant. How we can get through to these deranged teachers, parents, and psychiatrists?
    • by zephc (225327) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:02PM (#14903126)
      "How about encouraging the "patient" to go outside or do something constructive, instead of coercing him into repeating a mindless task for no real reward."

      You repeat the tasks to gain experience points. Duh.

      First you get the xp, then you get the gold. Then you get the women.
    • I find ADHD to be an interesting subject. Studies have shown that a male child without a father living in his home is ten times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than one who does have a father in the home.

      Is this a medical condition or a societal condition? Or both?
      • Oh, it's both... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Garwulf (708651) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:31PM (#14903218) Homepage
        It's definitely both.

        There are people who honestly have a neurological imbalance that causes them to have difficulty completing tasks, and in these cases drugs like Ritalin are a godsend, allowing them to normalize their routines. I know one or two people who have that, and without their medicine, they can make a ferret look like the paragon of focus and concentration.

        On the other hand, ADD and ADHD make for a wonderful scapegoat for when children are acting up. Bright children being bored out of their skull in class? Must be ADD. I know from personal experience on this one - when I was a kid I was misdiagnosed with it, and I thank God that I had parents who knew enough to ask for a second opinion. It turned out that I was bored in class and reacting to food additives. Once I got into a gifted program in school and I stopped eating food I was reacting to, I settled right down.

        It really does drive me nuts. Back in the 1980s when I was misdiagnosed, the misdiagnosis happened because ADD was "fashionable." Now it's an excuse. Pump kids full of sugar and chemicals and of course they're going to be hyperactive. Make them sit still in a classroom doing boring things and of course they're going to get restless. I just wish more medical professionals would rule out the obvious causes first before doping the kids up for having AD(H)D that they might not actually have.
        • I read a pretty good book this weekend: "Healing ADD" by Daniel Amen. He identifies 6 different types of ADD and questions some myths concerning the cause and effects. His research uses actual SPECT scans of the brain to determine if the diagnosis is correct, and discusses the different treatments available.

          I like the idea of the scans (although they are expensive) to actually prove the existence of the disorder. I believe too many people are diagnosed with ADD and the wrong medications are often mis-prescr
      • by bigtrike (904535) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:33PM (#14903227)
        Another potential explanation is that ADHD inherited, and fathers with it tend to not stick with the child's mother.
      • That makes sense. A single parent is probably more likely to use the TV/Video game console to parent.
    • yay pump them full of drugs, that's a great solution. depressed? take drugs hyper? take drugs bored? you guessed it, gorge yourself!
      • I battled with OCD and Tourette's for a couple of years. These conditions were not the result of being sad, bored or having childhood trauma but of my brain chemicals being a little off. Because of the prevalent reasoning that "mental" disease is the result of weakness of character I refused to take any drugs. After wasting a couple of years of my life with needless suffering and after almost ending sleeping on a sidewalk and becoming the neighborhood nut I started taking pills skeptically. Today, I live an
    • Indeed. Back in olden days (i.e. the 1960s and 70s) "short attention span" was simply a personality trait, not a physiological flaw.

      Many years ago (1993, actually) when my oldest son entered first grade, he was immediately tagged as an ADD kid. We went along with it simply because we didn't know any better. We eventually came to the realization that Ritalin and Adderall were nothing more than speed for little kids, and took him off the stuff.

      We were told flat-out by the school "your son needs to be medic
      • Ritalin is speed for little kids?

        What an odd statement. You do realize that Ritalin has the opposite effect on people with ADD/ADHD than it does on 'normal' people? In that it actually slows your brain down enough to work properly?
        • From the literature i've read, in ADHD there is one part of the brain which is underactive, and as a result, other parts of the brain 'speed up' to compensate. Ritalin stimulates the underactive parts, which allow the rest of the brain to resume a more normal level of activity.

          So it is a stimulant like speed, and mimics speed fairly closely even though it's not really related, but the net effect in an ADHD 'sufferer' is that it slows the brain down.
    • How about encouraging the "patient" to go outside

      That is not the be all and end all to raising kids. Jesus! I got in a LOT more trouble going outside then I ever did staying inside, and I was just as happy doing either.
    • How about encouraging the "patient" to go outside or do something constructive, instead of coercing him into repeating a mindless task for no real reward. Oh, right - because that's what he would have done ANYWAY if he weren't one of the majority who by about age six are infected with an affinity for pointless busywork, and an inability to learn except by rote.

      Fifty years ago it would have been taken for granted that some people are born spend their lives guiding people up and down mountains or breaking in

    • You, sir, represent the type of ignorance I have to deal with on a daily basis. So I'm going to address your comment as if you are the head of the local "ADHD is a figment of my government's imagination" chapter, a subchapter of the "ADHD people are just lazy lusers who don't try hard enough" national organization. I realize you haven't personally attacked me, but in the spirit of an open exchange of ideas in our society I hope you realize I'm not personally attacking you either.

      First, to those that think t
    • How about encouraging the "patient" to go outside or do something constructive, instead of coercing him into repeating a mindless task for no real reward. [...]
      I have no objection to psychotropic drugs and behavioral treatments when used judiciously to relieve real suffering or addiction. But using these tools to homogenize children to the societal norm is absolutely repugnant. How we can get through to these deranged teachers, parents, and psychiatrists?


      As somebody with ADD who has tried the meds and benef
    • How we can get through to these deranged teachers, parents, and psychiatrists?

      By finding a way to demonstrate the difference between a chronic disability and willful disobedience. The diagnostic criteria in place obviously are not capable of doing so with a high degree of accuracy. There needs to be a way to conclusively determine whether the will of the patient (not the patients parents or teachers) is being disrupted by the problem. It might help to convince our society to respect the will of it's chil
  • ... everytime the little bastard thinks he can misbehave and not pay attention.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Zoning out is a symptom of ADHD? Dang. I think I need see my doctor.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The potential is huge for training in this field. Maybe good - maybe bad. stay alert, of course, but what singing instructor wouldn't be a little nervous about the new sing sing revolution game that's on X-Box, et al. I saw it 'cause a friends son was very excited to have it and asked if i'd like to play a round.

    Anything once, right? (except uh, cyanide and hand-grenades, but i digress)

    So what is really neat? As you sing, it shows you a little bar that reveals your fundamental tone (singing pitch) and updat
    • This is not anwywhere near 'off topic'. The parent is pointing out the new biofeedback mechanisms (similar to the 'game' mentioned in the summary). Biofeedback is nothing new. However, medical science has made the measuring systems much more accurate.

      Can you imagine saying 'I want to be more patient', and buying a product that would measure your respiration rate, blood vessel constriction, and activity in certain regions of the brain? It could then apply a small amount of pain when it measures certain of th
  • In related news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson@g m a i l . com> on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:59PM (#14903116) Homepage Journal
    ...doctors are now prescribing doses of Jack Daniels as a cure for alcoholism...

  • Certainly there's something to be said for focus feedback in video games, but video games perhaps also cause the problem by having participants enroll in polyphasic activities that invite scatter-gather activities in the first place. So much information is put onto a screen, that distraction seems an almost inevitable result.

    I find it a paradox that the cure is also perhaps the cause.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:07PM (#14903142) Journal
    ... as this kid [break.com] testifies? :-)
  • ... if they zone out [as detected by brainwave activity], the videogame doesn't respond any more' This is supposed to help the patient increase the ability to focus and concentrate."

    Sounds like lag to me which is just a cruel joke. The best thing to help me concentrate is... hey look boobies! Maybe if there was a chick in the game who walked by and randomly flashed here and there... PROFIT!
    • Sounds like lag to me which is just a cruel joke. The best thing to help me concentrate is... hey look boobies! Maybe if there was a chick in the game who walked by and randomly flashed here and there... PROFIT!

      I recognize that was probably meant as humor, but...

      I think the idea is to encourage willful focus. The kind of focus that is required for completing a project, or solving a complex problem. "Oh look, boobies!" does nothing at all to help with that, and may well reinforce the tendency to have one

  • by hazem (472289)
    So, how is this different from an overheating xbox? It just stops responding after a while too. And if I've zoned out too much, the smoke brings me back to reality...
  • Sounds like bleeding someone to cure anemia.
  • by PipeIsArt (800028) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:36PM (#14903239) Homepage
    This is really starting to piss me off. Why is it that we must label everything that is not perfectly matched to our current society's customs as a disorder? I am ADHD. The main feature of ADHD is a different brain structure where the gap between neurons is larger (which is why only the strongest chemicals, i.e. the most impulsive chemicals, get through most of the time and why stimulants like Ritalin actually seem to calm someone wiht ADHD down). As such the brain of one with ADHD is does not think in the way that most people think. But that does not make us any worse than avg. Joe. It is not a disorder, but an evolution in the human brain. While it is harder for those with ADHD to stay focused in many environments put in front of us today, we have the uncanny abilities to: 1) be able to notice many different facets of our environment in a very short span of time and 2) we can hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is the concentration on a subject so intense that the rest of the world completely fades out (many programmers, such as myself, know what I am talking about). From TFA, it seems that scientists are trying to "cure" this "disorder". But why? How about focusing an creating teaching environments where people with ADHD can thrive and harness th advatanges ADHD gives them while minimizing its disadvantages? It has been said that some of the greatest forththright thinkers and creative minds of out time have had ADHD. Albert Einstein is theorized to have had the disorder. Also, the owner of Kinkos has ADHD and Dyslexia. It is not a disease, but a change. I hope someday the scientific community will realize that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The current focus is teaching children and adults to modify their behavior. We should be teaching them how to adapt their lifestyle to meet their cognitive needs while itegrating into society. Being married to and having a child both with the "disorder" (I hate to call it that.), is very frustrating. Sometimes I wish their were a magic pill that would make them normal. But then I would miss out on the wonderful things that a person who thinks "alternativly" has to offer. Our life is exciting most of the tim
  • Hyper-Focusing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Feasoron (939800) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:46PM (#14903289)
    This article doesn't mention how this can relate to what is known as "hyper-focusing." Maybe this is what they mean by "zoning out" since the medical information is scarce, but there is a phenomenon observed in ADHD sufferers that shows while playing video games (and some other activities) they focus to the exclusion of all other stimuli, often for extended periods of time. I'm not sure if this is the same thing or a seperate symptom than "zoning out" but it might be worth looking into a bit more.
    • I find this "hyper-focusing" to be extremely useful. I often use this while programming, as it allows me to sit 14 hours straight and write a *lot* of code. There is no such thing as "the rest of the world" when I do this, and I must say that I am very effective. (Not vouching for the correctness of my code though)
  • What kind of monsters are these researchers, anyhow?!
    Whether speeding down a virtual street in Sony's Gran Turismo or slaying Spyro the Dragon, researchers hope games such as these will improve the lives of those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, or cognitive-processing difficulties.

    Poor Spyro [wikipedia.org]...
  • You want an ADHD game?
    Play one written by somebody that has it and that truly understands the ADHD mind: http://www.tqworld.com/ [tqworld.com]
    • Is it bad that I get about halfway through one of the pages on that site and get bored and switch pages? I'm serious. It happened a few times before I gave up. I'm just going to try it and see, instead. But for someone who 'understands' ADHD, he's managed to induce it in me. I'm hopeful for the game, though.
  • ... too long.

    I think it's a brilliant idea, actually - hopefully the portions of the brain dealing with attention are plastic enough to be retrained in this fashion.
  • by thrill12 (711899) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @04:20PM (#14903434) Journal
    ...NASA technology ! That must be good right ? Just like the:

    NASA mattresses [absoluteco...onsale.com]
    NASA Chiropractors [yournorthhills.com]
    NASA food [jumpstartinc.org]
    NASA Anthrax detectors [udetection.com]
    NASA Waterheaters [tanklesswa...online.com]
    NASA shine [idbooth.com]
    NASA golf clubs [nr-golf.com]
    etc. etc. etc....

    Heck, just write NASA in front of your name and your all of a sudden a brilliant, top performing (name your profession here).

    NASA thrill12 (uses NASA technology).
  • by Gen-GNU (36980) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @04:36PM (#14903510)
    This seems like an ok idea for helping children develop longer attention spans. It will probably be effective in those kids who are diagnosed ADHD for simply being normal children.

    A lot of children are now being diagnosed ADHD simply for doing what children do. Namely running around, being active, jumping from one interest to another, etc. Children (under 10) do not have the same brain activity as an adult, and it is unreasonable to expect them to behave as adults do. Parents seem to not want their children to act like children, and are turning to chemicals to make them be what they want them to be. Children who are diagnosed ADHD, when if fact they are just normal kids, will eventually settle down as the brain develops.

    For children who actually are ADD, the attention span problem does not go away with time. They will struggle their entire lives with tasks most adults have no problems with. For them, these excercizes will do nothing but frustrate, as their brains do not have the capacity for developing longer attention spans.

    There are children who are put into classes now that are supposed to extend attention spans, and this is another example of that theory. It is useful, however, only in children who have the ability to develop normally, not in the true cases of ADD.
  • ...nothing like a good game of 'burn the ant with sunlight' to cure a case of ADHD.
  • These games have come a very long way from their Pacman days, and even further from their days of moving bar graphs up and down. And as the article reveals, there is now a home version, something I wasn't aware of, that converts any game into a focus training exercise. As the doctor in the article claimed, it is better to go into the office to have the full treatment with the feedback results, but at $50 a session for weeks on end many people cannot take advantage of this technology. Unfortunately, the home
  • I think this would work great with Desert Bus.
  • Joel Lubar at U.Tenn.

    http://psychology.utk.edu/people/lubar.html [utk.edu]

    It's hardly unusual for NASA to be involved in "breakthrough" science that they had no idea already existed.

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