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Old 09-26-05, 11:01 AM
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Video games may help kids with attention problems

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...UGUHET47A1.DTL


Video games that get kids' attention, enhance learning
Children put on helmets linked to sensors that monitor their brain


Benjamin Pimentel, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, September 26, 2005

Like many parents, Janet Herlihey tried her best to keep her kids away from video games.
She was particularly concerned about the potential harm to her two boys who have had problems focusing and controlling their emotions.

"Why would this be good for kids who had a hard time concentrating?" said Herlihey, who lives in West Chester, Pa. "It doesn't make sense." She told her boys, Michael, 12, and Paul, 10: "Don't ever ask me, because you'll never get them."

But late last year, the boys did get to play video games -- and with the blessing of their parents.

The Herliheys had decided to let their sons -- who show symptoms of attention-deficit disorder but have never been diagnosed -- try out a new treatment that uses video games to help children with attention problems.

Smart BrainGames, developed by CyberLearning Technology in San Diego, use a combination of adaptive automation and video games to help children deal with attention problems. The kids who undergo the treatment put on helmets linked to sensors that monitor their brain activity while playing video games. The more focused they are, the better their chances of winning in the game.

The use of video games in treating attention-deficit problems in children is new. While the technology, which is based on research done by NASA, apparently has been well received, one expert said more studies need to be done on the system.

The games are based on the science of neurofeedback, which tracks and measures brain wave activity.

"The brain produces slow wave patterns and it produces fast wave patterns," said Domenic Greco, founder and CEO of CyberLearning Technology. "When we are in a wide-alert stage, we're producing fast waves. As we start getting daydreamy and drifty, we produce slower waves. As we get real drowsy and sleepy, it slows down even more. Then we get into that sleep state. Then the reverse (happens) as we come out of sleep."

Neurofeedback technology makes people aware of those changes, prompting them to find ways to focus more by exercising their brain.

The adaptive automotion technology was first developed by a team of scientists at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia led by Dr. Alan Pope, who wanted to come up with a better balance of automation and human control on flight simulators.

NASA and Eastern Virginia Medical School then took on the technology and combined it with neurofeedback to find ways to help children with attention-deficit problems.

Pope said the technology helped make neurofeedback, which has long been used for treating attention problems, more entertaining.

"The traditional means of delivering neurofeedback tends to be boring," he said. "We had subjects drop out. Attrition was a big problem. With the kids that had video games, they were actually anxious to come to treatment. They would drag their parents in to come to treatment."

Greco, whose company won an exclusive license to develop the technology in 2002, said many children with attention problems had no problems focusing on video games.

"We hear that from parents all the time. 'My (children) can't do their homework. They won't study. But they can sit and play video games for hours,' " he said. "So we had a medium that kids were already comfortable with, that they enjoy doing, that we knew they would be able to make use of on a regular basis."

The system, which has a base price of about $550, includes the headset with brainwave sensors, a small box that tracks brainwave signals, a game controller and special software. The system is designed for Sony PlayStation systems, but the company plans to adapt it to other gaming consoles, including Xbox and Nintendo, as well for regular DVD systems.

The system uses games that involve racing and jumping, such as Drome Racers or Ratchet and Clank. The treatment is based on a basic principle: you lose focus, you lose the game.

The more a player is focused, the faster the speeds or the higher the distances the player's character in the game is able to reach. When players get distracted or lose focus, the characters' performance lags. The system lets players know that they have lost their concentration by making the game controller vibrate and changing the pitch of a tone that sounds during the game.

"The faster your brain is working, the more speed you have available with the character," Greco said as a reporter tested the system with a game called Crash Team Racing. "You see that character kind of surge back and forth."

Herlihey said she had a million questions about having her boys play video games as part of their treatment, but she and her husband eventually decided to try it out.

When she told her sons that they will get to play video games as part of their new treatment, the boys were thrilled.

"Oh my god, they were like, 'Yeah, that's great,' " she said. "I had to eat my words."

The treatment has paid off, she said.

"There were changes that were really exciting," she said. "Michael's memory improved so much that I did not have to remind him about things. Because his memory was better, he was learning better."

With Paul, she added, "I saw his ability to do work independently improve."

Dr. Victor Carrion, a professor of child psychiatry at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, said that while more studies are needed to evaluate the technology, the concept of using video games to exercise parts of the brain is interesting.

"There may be some circuits in the brain of children (with attention-deficit disorder) that may be improved, so the idea is appealing," he said. "It sounds worth looking at."

Herlihey said the technology has helped bring some much-needed harmony in her home.

"I will say at one point, we didn't," she said. "Now we enjoy being together and we have a lot of laughs."
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Old 09-26-05, 11:15 AM
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My quick research shows the system is $548 plus you need Playstation 1 or 2. I guess the good news it works with games already on the market....
I wonder where you can try it?
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Old 09-26-05, 12:28 PM
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I was reading an article in an English tabloid paper recently from someone who either presents,or used to present on GMTV(a morning tv show,can't remember which) -she was ranting on about a 12(?) year old boy with ADHD who had robbed a car,and was outside court smoking a cigarette at the allowance of his mother.
She goes on to say something like,"it's no wonder he has ADHD-he's allowed to play video games,smoke...they're all stimulants..." -I was going to write in to say how ignorant of ADHD the comments were but the paper required real name to be given and I know too many people who read it.

VickiS,I doubt many places would have it working in store, unless it was a popular peripheral.

Hope it comes to the UK,realistically,it'll probably have another $300 odd dollars added on if it comes to these shores though.
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Old 09-27-05, 08:45 AM
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Sounds interesting -- I hope they'll do more studies on it. I had a friend whose child did child worked with traditional neurofeedback techniques and made good progress as long as he stayed on the program, but lost most of his gains when the stopped going in for treatments.

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Old 09-28-05, 11:31 AM
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Another article about video games and ADD in USA today.
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/product...-therapy_x.htm
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Old 09-28-05, 11:36 AM
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Thanks for posting this.

Video games have everything needed to attract someone with ADHD: noise, color, (rapid) movement,different degrees of difficulty and most importantly, immediate reinforcement.

If classes in school could be taught in a multi-sensory/surround sound type environment, it would go a very log way towards "teaching to a child's strenghts."
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Old 07-05-06, 07:42 PM
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Hi All, anyone heard of this cognitive brain training thing, Shaper Brain? Looking for peer-reviewed journals and evidence-based stuff. No sales pitches, please =)
http://www.sharperprograms.com/index.html
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Old 07-08-06, 02:44 PM
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Wow, I never thought I'd see it happen! Although it does make sense. Hmm, I should buy one for my cousin for his birthday
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Old 07-08-06, 05:21 PM
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i love games an i think it dose help with adhd an some other things as well i play alot helps me l))))) dorm
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Old 07-08-06, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dormammau2008
i love games an i think it dose help with adhd an some other things as well i play alot helps me l))))) dorm
hi Dorm,
which games are you referring to? which ones do you play?
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Old 07-08-06, 06:26 PM
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strage games were you have to think an were your out numbered like quake for one games in that raea an i like palying as a team to slove porblems i find the more i do it the bestter i csn think also if iam stuck i stop for a day or so an really give it though role playing time an time again untill it hits me how to slove the porblem then i go back to the game i sometimes do 3 in a day if i like them alot ive still got 6 games to go so far if you like to know more feel free to pm an i get lsited for you dorm an thanks
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Old 09-11-06, 11:48 AM
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I think that the theory of kids getting messed up by video games is BS all the way. I know kids can be impressionable but come on now! I have ADHD and I play all sorts of violent video games even though my mother will not buy them for me ((I have connections)) I also read very violent books and what not. I think it is all about the parents. The parents should teach the childern the differnce between what ids real and what is fake. Like if I had a kid I would sit next to him playing the video game and be like
"Now you know this is all make believe right? None of this could happen and you could never do any of this" and go on explaining the reasons why and what would happen if they did so. Man, parents have to stop blaming other people for what their child is thinking
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Old 09-11-06, 12:18 PM
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I'm a little confused as to how a video game can improve the symptoms of add beyond the time of game play. I mean, sure it's stimulating when you play it, but what about afterword?

My older brother also has ADD but he has extreme hyperactivity. I am more on the innatentive side. He was an obsessive video game player all his life. I liked playing, but I could disengage mroe easily then he could. And I don't get addicted to them (By that I mean I don't sit for hours at a time playing)

I did like to watch my brother play video games. It was exciting to see how far he could get.

I'm 20, and he's 25. So I don't know if this difference is gender related, age related, or based on the kind of ADD we have.

I alwasys thouhg that video games contributed to procrastination, but maybe it depends on the kind of game you play.
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