New research suggests a computer game can improve classroom behavior and improve social interactions among children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers in China found playing a computer game that helps kids improve their concentration appears to enhance classroom skills and academic performance.

The software studied in the research syncs with a wireless headband that monitors brain waves during game-play. The software then adjusts the level of difficulty and scoring system in order to target and train attention control, working memory, and impulse-control.

This neurocognitive training was administered in case studies of five elementary school students in China and resulted in overall improved behavior, assignment completion, and relationships with peers and teachers.

“The present study implies that the neurocognitive training can result in broader and more socially meaningful outcomes than improvement of ADHD symptoms,” wrote study authors Han Jiang and Dr. Stuart Johnstone.

“Two reasons possibly explain the side effect. First, the increased attentive behavior in class and improved quality of schoolwork improved these children’s social status. Second, game-driven and task-directed features of the training increased the children’s confidence in doing tasks.”

Prior to the study, all of the parents gave their children ratings indicating problems in the categories of hyperactivity, inattention, and acceptance by peers and teachers. After the training, parents rated their children’s behavior at the normal level and teachers reported less frequency of ADHD symptoms.

In the study, four of the five groups of parents saw improvements in their child’s interactions with teachers and peers. Researchers found that increases in teacher acceptance, such as public praise and greater inclusion in classroom activities, resulted in improved peer acceptance.

Jiang and Johnstone commented, “These findings indicate that once the children have received positive support and technical aids, they can achieve dramatic improvements. The outcomes have provided the foundation for a large randomized control trial which is currently underway in Australia, as well as two further controlled studies in China.”

The study is published in SAGE Open.

Source: Sage/EurekAlert!