Dan Hurley, Discover magazine, reports that the FDA approved a game-based treatment for ADHD this summer. Now, the first large study of brain games is underway and may add more legitimacy to the field. August 2020.
Scientists studying the effects of brain games have announced two milestones in their efforts to bring legitimacy to the field: a massive study seeking 30,000 volunteers, and the first-ever FDA approval of a computerized game to treat ADHD.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the large study is designed to discern who benefits most — or least — from online games designed to challenge and enhance high-level cognitive abilities.
“We and others have published papers suggesting that brain training works better for some people than for others,” says Susanne Jaeggi, associate professor and director of the Working Memory and Plasticity Lab at the University of California, Irvine. “But we don’t know the characteristics of those people it works best for. By training 30,000 people, we hope to find out.”
Enrollment in the study, which is free, requires participants to first spend about 15 minutes completing a survey, and take a game-like test to establish a cognitive baseline. Participants are then asked to spend 20 to 30 minutes per session playing a variety of challenging games, 10 sessions per week for a few weeks. Participants have a chance to win monthly prizes, such as Amazon gift cards and an iPad. (Learn more here.)
The FDA action, meanwhile, involves a game-based program called EndeavorRx. For children between ages 8 and 12 who have been diagnosed with ADHD, the program requires a prescription and “is intended for use as part of a therapeutic program that may include clinician-directed therapy, medication, and/or educational programs,” according to the FDA’s announcement.
The approval was based on randomized trials involving over 600 children, including a paperpublished earlier this year in The Lancet Digital Health.