183: Gaming The Brain

Gaming The Brain

Videogames are too often blamed for creating a generation of hyperactive, stimulus-starved youngsters. But one company is using videogames as part of an effective treatment for ADHD. Joel Gonzales profiles SmartBrain Technologies and its SMART system.

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Interesting treatment method, especially because a common (mis)conception is that too much exposure to video games and screen entertainment 'causes' ADHD in the first place.

Anything that gets people off the god forsaken meds they give to kids to "fix" them is aces to me. Took adderall for 2 years between highschool in college. It was refreshing to take a vacation from my mind in the sense that I was convinced I was stupid before I took them. On the pills I could mindlessly focus on anything for hours. That included schoolwork, alphabetizing my games, and reading the telephone book. So making A's on the stuff was cool in the sense that it gave me self-confidence.

After about two years I couldn't sleep anymore and my personality could have been compared to a wet brick. When I complained to the doctor he wrote me a prescription to sleeping pills and anxiety meds. I had a better idea and just quit taking the stuff.

Unfortunately, therapies that are time consuming like neurofeedback for ADHD(and in my case, phototherapy for SAD) are often going to fall by the wayside in favor of drugs that only take a second or two to swallow. I know I'm so busy that I value every second of sleep I manage to scrape together, and there's no possible way I'd be willing to get up 20 min earlier than I have to just to sit in front of some high intensity light. I'd far rather throw an antidepressant down the hatch--even with all the side effects that come along with it.

So I suspect that neurofeedback might be an excellent option for students or older people, but no matter how effective it is, I can't see it becoming widespread for those of us with more hectic lifestyles. Which is, well, most people.

Interesting concept and an excellent read.

I wish I had heard of this when I was still in college - might have made those essays and study sessions a little easier. Granted, I'm still broke enough and without enough work to do that it'd still be a good option for me, but for people with more to do or simply more available spending money, a quick pill in the morning is still going to be favorable.

@Solipsis - I assume that as a reader of this site, you make time to play games. From my understanding of the article, that would be enough to carry out the treatment.

Great article. If it's successful, this seems like a really positive way to treat ADHD.

I'm a Bhuddist and I've been using meditation to self-improve my thought processes for years now. The idea of being able to "rewire" faulty parts of your brain sounds like something out of a bad urban fantasy movie, but it's nothing new to me.

Using video games as an easier method of self-induction sounds like a great idea to me. Meditation isn't really difficult once you get used to it, but getting used to it can be hard, especially for a person with ADHD. Video games like this one can provide a nice external focus point with step-by-step instructions.

Like some people here said, anything that gets people off the Ritalin-clone meds is awesome by default. Unfortunately, people hate to think, and so most of them will keep right on popping the stupid pills.

Hmm very interesting, I was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 5. But through out the years I seem to have out grown it. They tried putting on a substitute for Ritalin but I had reaction to it and i was developing turrets so they took me off. But through the years I seem to be getting better better about my ADD. Since I was either 2 or 3 my mom had gotten me an Atari 2600 then we upgraded to an NES. I'm 26 now So I've been gaming my entire life. Now my ADD is rarely a problem and I think it might have to do with gaming for so long. And I have pretty good reflexes too.

It's a good idea, one which I think should sell well, but won't. People are too lazy and ignorant, and fearful of change. Pills are easy, and well tested and documented and widely used.

Horror games might work well with the gamma adjustment mode. I dare you not to focus.

ironic that too much videogames causes ADHD and now they are used to help treat it

Tapping into that technology in games is actually a pretty interesting step (or the next step rather). I'm pretty sure there's a lot of research going into games using brainwaves as a controller. Makes one think though, what if a game read a person's brainwaves and it affected a game. Say, you walk up to a merchant in a game and you think, "that guy's real frickin ugly", he'll react to you by saying "What's with the face?" and sell you cheap junk instead of good items. It'd make rpg (and maybe fighting) games possibly a bit more interactive and FUN.


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