Prescription videogames

On the 17th of October 2014, the University of Toronto published their research (1) on how videogames can improve hand-eye coordination. Ever since this has been confirmed by multiple studies (2). Now if we take into account that playing videogames is one of the most popular hobbies among teens, this leaves us with interesting questions; can we get more health benefits out of playing videogames or perhaps can we introduce them into the medical world?

It’s some of these questions that lead Neuroscape (3) to start their research into the different benefits that videogames could have on the mind. They were particularly interested in being able to reduce the side effects that for example pills would have. Their vision was not to get rid of the pharmaceutical part of the equation but rather to see what they could do to reduce the need for chemicals.

One of the mental disorders they are particularly interested in is ADHD. After spending 8 years researching and refining their videogames, they have spun off a division into ‘Akili Interactive Labs’ (4). STARS-ADHD is the first product that has proven so effective in a trial that they have taken it to the FDA for approval (5). STARS-ADHD is a videogame where you play as an alien and you need to move the iPad in specific ways whilst also tapping the screen at certain timings for the optimal results. Algorithms scan the user’s behaviour and always make sure that the difficulty is at the razor’s edge between being too easy and being too difficult (6).

As long as the brain remains a huge mystery I will always stay interested in the field of neuroscience. I imagine a world where the impact that neurological issues like dyslexia, depression or even Alzheimer’s have on people’s lives can be reduced by simply downloading an app.

Links to the sources I have referred to:

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Jurian de Cocq van Delwijnen

About

Jurian de Cocq van Delwijnen works for Sogeti Netherlands as part of the mobile team. He builds apps by craft but his passion for refining the development process has taken him far as a Scrum Master. He prides himself in being able to switch effortlessly between being a developer and taking the perspective of the business. After previously developing the Philips Hue app he works for Rabobank now, the second largest bank in the Netherlands.

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