It may be every child’s fantasy to have parents who encourage
them to play video games. For children with attention issues, their dreams may come true.
As reported in Crain’s New York Business, the startup, Atentiv is scheduled to release a version of their video game “designed for children who have trouble paying attention. The digital learning device marks the first implementation of technology developed in Singapore that uses a brain-to-computer interface to strengthen focus, just as a treadmill works the heart and lungs.”
The prototype is currently being tested at the Churchill School in New York City, where children engage in making
the screen characters move by paying attention. The technology involves transmitting brain-wave activity to the computer via Bluetooth, which is tucked into headbands worn by the players.
Atentiv founder and Chief Executive Eric Gordon is the parent of a daughter with ADHD who is also his inspiration for his brain-workout game. Says Gordon, “Being the parent of that child—because I was one—that takes the knees out from under you, because you have no idea how difficult ADHD is to live with day in, day out.”
According to the article in Crain’s, Atentiv is entering an exploding field:
The brain-workout market is a sprawling one, with a number of practitioners and companies offering games that also claim to improve attention. The governing concept behind all of them is neuroplasticity, the term for the brain’s ability to heal itself and learn new skills.
The distinction of the Atentiv system, according to Mr. Gordon, is the precision with which its technology calibrates each individual’s mental circuitry and then zeroes in on electrical activity related to attention, as opposed to memory, for instance, or critical thinking. A numerical indicator on the screen gives a real-time reading of the child’s attention level, the numbers fluctuating from zero to 100.
The goal of the game is to get a bird to move along a winding road and perform certain tasks that require tapping keys. But the bird speeds along, or slows down and stops, depending solely on the degree to which the user stays focused.
Of course the real question is whether “exercising” the brain will enable children with attention issues to tune out distractions in real life and focus better on tasks such as homework and school assignments.
The research is encouraging. According to Gordon, in all studies to date, “75% to 85% of children have shown significant improvement.”
Children, start your video games.