Guest Author - Karen Huber
Many children love video games; some of them seem to love them too much. Yet, there are a few video games that actually may help children with ADHD. Research is just beginning, but it suggests that a few new video games equipped with neurofeedback may be as worth investigating. The games are designed to increase the frequency of high-frequency brainwaves, which helps the brain to focus and concentrate. More focus and concentration can lead to greater impulse control. Since people with ADHD have been found to have brainwaves that are slower than normal, they may be under-aroused and not want to pay attention. The brain waves of ADHD children tend to be lower frequency than normal, and they find it hard to focus.
SmartBrain Technologies, of San Marcos, Calif., makes a racing car game that gives children neurofeedback as it receives brain wave signals from their headsets. When the child gives off low frequency brain signals, a part of the game will change in order to motivate him to change to higher-frequency brain waves. The game then gives him positive reinforcement, his car speeds up, for the change. The high-frequency brain waves are supposed to continue after the game stops.
Captain's Log is a game designed by the company BrainTrain to help children and adults with ADHD and other cognitive challenges. It works with any standard computer-control device and offers over 30 brain games to help improve concentration, memory, and self-control. Captain's Log generates feedback in the form of reports and it rewards students with certificates as they improve. SmartDriver is another car-based game by BrainTrain that works with or without a steering wheel.Users drive from outside of the car and must follow driving rules to learn patience and responsibility. It is appealing to children because they get to drive like an adult.
Play Attention, by Unique Logic + Technology, enables children and adults with AD/HD to connect their brain waves to a home computer via a helmet embedded with sensors. In order to improve focus and impulse control, the user learns to control the action on the screen with his brain waves. Focus causes positive reinforcement on the screen, while distraction causes negative feedback.
These technologies are not a substitute for counseling or medication, but can be helpful tools along with behavior therapy and medication. Parental support seems to be a big factor in behavior mediation, especially when started early in life, as it can minimize the severity of ADHD. With proper counseling, parenting, and medication, these games can be a promising addition to the tools available to children with ADHD. As the technology develops further, there will probably be more variety and streamlining to make the games even easier to use.