UK scientists will soon expand an innovative strategy to reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. The initiative uses a thought-operated computer system that detects brain waves providing biofeedback.

Professor Karen Pine and assistant Farjana Nasrin studied the benefits of EEG (Electroencephalography) biofeedback, a learning strategy that detects brain waves, on ten children with an attention deficit from Hertfordshire schools.

They used a system called Play Attention, supplied by not-for-profit community interest company, Games for Life, three times a week for twelve weeks.

The system involves the child playing a fun educational computer game while wearing a helmet similar to a bicycle helmet. The helmet picks up their brain activity in the form of EEG waves related to attention. As long as the child concentrates they control the games, but as soon as their attention wavers the game stops.

The researchers found at the end of the study that the children’s impulsive behavior was reduced, compared to a control group who had not used the system.

“Children with a diagnosis of ADHD find it hard to control their impulses and inhibit inappropriate behavior,” said Professor Pine. “This can lead to educational and behavioral difficulties. The Play Attention method may prevent long-term problems by helping the children to be less impulsive and more self-controlled.”

Professor Pine and Dr. Rob Sharp, a senior specialist educational psychologist, are continuing to work on futuristic projects with Ian Glasscock, managing director of Games for Life.

A means of assessing learning in children with severe communication and physical difficulties by a thought-controlled computer game method is likely to have considerable potential for these children who cannot operate a computer manually.

“Attention-related difficulties including ADHD affect many children, young people and adults and has a significant impact on their lives,” said Mr. Glasscock.

“Mind-controlled educational computer games technology is the only intervention shown to reduce the core symptoms of ADHD, historically medication may have been prescribed for the child.”

Games for Life plans to roll out this new system across the UK this month.

Source: Hertfordshire University