Study Suggests That Video Games Could Help Schizophrenia Patients

/ 2 weeks ago

Video Games

Gaming can actually make a difference.

Some associate gaming with antisocial behavior or even violence. While we all know that it’s nothing more than a hobby, albeit sometimes an expensive one, scientists have decided to go even further and try to use video games as therapy for patients with Schizophrenia. The study in question was performed at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and the University of Roehampton. Even though it’s just a pilot study, it actually shows quite a bit of promise. That’s because it aims to help patients control their hallucinations.

How did they perform the study?

They enlisted twelve patients and placed them in a magnetic resonance imaging machine. Each patient got to look at a computerized rocket ship that reacted to the speech-registering part of the brain. The game involved landing the rocket safely, but no patient was given any instructions on how to do this. They had to “develop their own mental strategies to move it.” The part of the brain that causes verbal hallucinations had a slower activity while the patients focused on the task at hand. As the voices died off, they were able to land the ship safely. Dr. Natasza Orlov from King’s IoPPN explained:

“We encouraged our patients to use the same control strategies that they learnt in the MRI scanner at home. The patients know when the voices are about to start – they can feel it, so we want them to immediately put this aid into effect to lessen them, or stop the voices completely. Unfortunately, we don’t have effective treatments for all of the people with schizophrenia who hear voices and it’s great that this innovative research offers a novel approach to help patients with continued symptoms.”

Interestingly, patients were able to control that specific part of the brain after just four visits to the MRI. However, since there was no control group, the research is quite informal. Now, those behind the project want to perform the study on a larger scale.


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