Treating ADHD by Using Video Game to Monitor Children’s Brain Waves

ADHD video game
Image: Neeuro

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. It affects children and teens and can continue into adulthood. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses. Or they may have trouble paying attention. These behaviors interfere with school and home life. There are drugs available to treat this disorder but they usually have pretty serious side effects. Now, researchers in Singapore are using a novel way to treat ADHD. A team of scientists from the country’s Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Duke-NUS (National University of Singapore) Medical School, and A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research) have developed a system that combines neuromonitoring with video games to help improve symptoms among patients with ADHD. Neeuro Pte Ltd. is a local company that has been spun off to commercialize the technology, reports MedGadget.

So far, a randomized controlled trial of this technology has shown success in the laboratory setting. But Neeuro has further developed a version of the technology that is now being offered to a group of children with ADHD for use in their own homes.

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This system is composed of Neeuro’s electroencephalography “SenzeBand” and a Samsung tablet. The child simply places this brainwave-reading band on their head and plays a game called CogoLand. The system tracks their mental focus and adjusts the gameplay accordingly.

Playing a video game
Image: Neeuro

In the video game study, children showed improvements in areas of the brain related to attention and task-orientation. These improvements were confirmed via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The researchers are planning a new study which will use this technology to analyze children with ADHD being treated by Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health. These children will continue receiving their regular therapy, will evaluate the longer term effects of the new therapy under normal at-home conditions.

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“Our technology can accurately quantify a person’s attention level in real-time using a machine learning algorithm and, from there, develop a unique patented personalized training program using a feed-forward concept for cognitive training,” explained Professor Guan Cuntai, technical lead of the system and scientific advisor to Neeuro. “Further improvements have been made in recent iterations by capitalizing on the latest deep learning approaches with our large dataset.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS One.