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   Your Stories > Stories of interest > ADD is Positively Ef
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ADD is Positively Effected by Computer Games

There is evidence that electronic games can help improve focus in both children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). This software addresses the most common and fundamental symptom by helping to increase the individual's ability to retain focus.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder that affects about 3-5%of the world's population under the age of 19. This disorder is closely related to ADD and they are often referred to interchangeably.

This disorder's typical onset is during childhood. ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity. Forgetfulness, poor impulse control or impulsivity, and distractibility are all characteristic of this disorder. ADHD is currently considered to be a persistent and chronic condition for which no medical cure is available.

ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in children. Diagnoses of adults with this disorder have increased over the past decade. Studies show that approximately 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD retain the condition as adults. One-fifth of all cases are estimated to be caused from trauma or toxic exposure.

Methods of treatment usually involve some combination of medications, behaviour modifications, life style changes, and counselling. The most common symptoms of ADHD are distractibility, difficulty with concentration and focus, short-term memory slippage, procrastination, problems organizing ideas and belongings, tardiness, impulsivity, and weak planning and execution. There are an incredibly large number of very intelligent and capable individuals who find themselves limited by this disorder.

The discovery of new methods to modify the behaviours affected is very exciting and inspirational. Educational computer software is noted for it's ability to engage a child and improve various learning skills while keeping the gamer entertained.

Software engineers have created software that is specifically designed to improve attention and focus in individuals with ADD. New learning technology enables us to monitor and teach learning skills while enhancing confidence. I will overview three different products as follows; Play Attention Peter Freer created Play Attention, a system that enables children and adults with ADHD to connect their brain waves directly to a home computer. 'They can actually see what's happening to their brain waves as it occurs,' says Freer, CEO of Unique Logic + Technology, the Asheville, North Carolina, manufacturer of the game.

The user puts on a helmet embedded with sensors and learns to control the action on the screen with his brain waves. Focusing on a flying bird causes it to fly higher; distraction causes the bird to fly lower. Another exercise enables a person to work on his long-range focus by building a tower with moving blocks. A challenging exercise involves sitting at the controls of a spaceship, deflecting the white asteroids that are flying toward it. This helps develop discriminatory processing and impulse control.

A teacher, therapist, or coach can only describe what focus feels like to someone with ADHD. Play Attention lets the user experience what being attentive actually feels like. A student can even utilize the game while doing homework. The student would wear the helmet while doing an assignment and gauge his attention level by part taking in a short exercise in the game.

SmartDriver

SmartDriver, created by Joseph Sandford, helps any driver, or future driver, with focus problems to keep his thoughts on the road. The game works with or without a steering wheel for computer driving simulators. SmartDriver is different from the typical driving game as it requires patience and responsibility, not a love of hairpin turns. You must follow the rules of the road and heed speed limits, traffic lights, and other vehicles. SmartDriver contains enough lights and sounds to keep the user interested.



S.M.A.R.T. Brain Games

S.M.A.R.T Brain Games system converts any home video or computer game into a neurofeedback device. Using new technology developed by NASA, the S.M.A.R.T. (Self Mastery and Regulation Training) Brain Games system includes a state-of-the-art, wireless, handheld game controller. It looks and works like any other game controller, with the added feature of receiving brain wave signals from a headset worn by the player.

The headset tracks the frequency of the user's brain waves while he plays. When the player exhibits low-frequency patterns during, say, a car race at the track, his car slows and other cars pass him. That gets his attention, so he concentrates, producing higher-frequency brain waves. His car then speeds up and results in positive reinforcement for his cerebral change. The idea is that the higher-frequency pattern will continue even after kids stop playing the game.

The main difference that was found between S.M.A.R.T Brain Games and traditional equipment is motivation. Olafur Palsson, Ph.D., of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Richmond, a co-inventor of the NASA system stated that it was easier for parents to convince children to come to his clinic when they knew they would be playing S.M.A.R.T Brain Games. It is noteworthy that the games that don't work well are the shoot-'em-up, blood-and-guts kind, because there is poor forward motion. Games that involve steady motion, like driving a car or flying an airplane, work best.

There is evidence that electronic games can help improve focus in both children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). This software addresses the most common and fundamental symptom by helping to increase the individuals ability to retain focus. The combination of the focus building technology with games people enjoy playing has been successful and beneficial. Hopefully, we will see more to come!

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Allison Merlino
 
 
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