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FDA approved cognitive games for ADHD

Can this solve my child's ADHD FOREVER??

With many apps and cognitive games offered online to improve cognitive aspects, one line of video games investigated its effect on the attention and cognitive functions, specifically with children aged 8-12 years old who were diagnosed with ADHD but not taking any medication (or stopped taking them before the study started). 

The study results showed that one-third of kids (30%) treated “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention” after playing the obstacle-dodging, target-collecting game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks.


  • The video game-like interface was based on two tasks that are to be done in parallel (multitasking): 

    • a perceptual discrimination targeting taskin which users respond to the instructed stimulus targets and ignore the stimulus distractors (similar to a Go–No-Go task) 


  • psychology Go/No-go tests are used to measure a participants capacity for sustained attention and response control. For example, a go/no-go test that requires a participant to perform an action given certain stimuli (e.g., press a button – Go) and inhibit that action under a different set of stimuli (e.g., not press that same button – No-Go)]


  • a sensory motor navigation taskin which users continuously adjust their location to interact with or avoid positional targets. 



Why is it addressing ADHD cases?


  • The digital game targeted:


  1. attentional control to manage competing tasks

  2. to efficiently (flexibly) shift attention between tasks. 

  3. divided and selective attention systems are required to process several tasks simultaneously. 


  • The cognitive control and attention systems evaluated in these studies are similar to the deficits observed in paediatric patients with ADHD.1819




Points and limitations to keep in mind:


It is always beneficial to challenge your brain and play cognitive games. You can choose those that present a challenge to the brain that is specific to where your child is struggling (e.g. working memory, language and vocabulary, divided attention and more). 


There is no magic solution to make ADHD completely disappear (especially not in 1 month) that can work as one-size-fit-all solution. in the current study, only 30% of the children have been shown to benefit from the game, which shows that it can be very useful, but at the same time not all children with ADHD challenge have the same reasons for it when assessing their EEG on the cognitive, emotional and sleep patterns levels.  


Let’s demonstrate those points on the current study: 


  • The diagnosis for ADHD: diagnosis was based on the DSM (5thedition) and on a neuropsychiatric interview = diagnosis is based on the behaviour and cognitive performance “symptoms” and does not take into account the neurological and brain reasons for the inattentiveness or the full ADHD picture. Not all children with ADHD challenge have the same reasons for it when assessing their EEG on the cognitive, emotional and sleep patterns levels.  


  • The subjects’ attention and TOVA performance was assessed after 1 month of the experiment.That means they were not checked long term to see how those changes last and for how long.


  • The improvement was shown significant mainly in the TOVA scoresof the children, compared between the before-and-after stages of the experiment. 30% of the children playing the tested video game ended up with higher TOVA scores compared with the control group. 


  • The findings were not related to changes in EEG activity in the brain so there is no way at this point to follow the learning process of the brain in terms of the cognitive aspects checked. 


[The TOVA is a validated, computerised, continuous performance test that objectively measures attention and inhibitory control, normalised by age and sex].22


  • Children could not be taking medication for ADHD during the trial and could not have significant psychiatric comorbidity.Therefore, it is unclear if these findings will generalise to the broader population of patients with ADHD who have comorbid conditions or patients taking medication. 


Indeed, many times ADHD like behaviour or symptoms are expression of other underlying brain imbalances, such as emotional processing or sleep disturbances patterns. 


  • The parent and clinician ratings of ADHD symptoms and functional impairment were not different from the control condition.


This again leads to the fact the not every ADHD child has the same brain patterns that cause it, and that there is not one-size-fit-all solution for ADHD, especially when it’s based on symptoms or (in this case) on the cognitive performance of 2 specific challenges that are known to be hard for ADHD children, rather than being based on individual brain patterns assessment and differences.

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