Ten children with an attention deficit from Hertfordshire schools took part in reseach conducted by Professor Karen Pine at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology and assistant Farjana Nasrin, which investigated the effects of EEG (Electroencephalography) biofeedback, a learning strategy that alters brain waves.
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 whilst 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 game, but as soon as their attention waivers the game stops. The researchers found at the end of the study that the children’s impulsive behaviour 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 behaviour,” said Professor Pine, “This can lead to educational and behavioural 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. One project aims to develop the system as a means of assessing learning in children with severe communication and physical difficulties. 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 affects many children and has a significant impact on their lives,” said Mr Glasscock. “The Play Attention System is absolutely the first technology to help children with ADHD. Historically if someone was diagnosed with this condition, the first line of treatment was medication. Our system is a non-medical, non-invasive treatment.”