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Computer Game May Improve Some Brain Connections in Children With ADHD

August 24, 2018

By Reuters Staff 

NEW YORK—A brain-computer-interface (BCI)-based attention-training game appears to alter connectivity of some brain networks in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers report.

An estimated 38% to 57% of children with ADHD have inattention as one of their presenting features. A few studies have shown significant improvement in children with ADHD following BCI-based training.

Dr. Helen Juan Zhou from Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School and colleagues investigated the impact of an eight-week BCI-based attention treatment on large-scale brain network organization in a study of 29 boys with ADHD.

After eight weeks, boys in the intervention group (n=18) had significantly greater reductions in ADHD Rating Scale clinician inattention scores and internalizing problems, compared with boys assigned to the nonintervention group (n=11), the researchers report in Translational Psychiatry, online August 10.

Boys in the nonintervention group had increased functional connectivity within the salience/ventral attention network (SVN) and increased functional connectivity between task-positive networks and subcortical regions, while boys in the intervention group did not show this pattern.

Smaller increases in functional connectivity in these areas were associated with greater behavioral improvement.

After training, the intervention group showed reductions in local functional processing, mainly in the SVN, and these reductions were associated with less inattention/internalizing problems.

"Our study revealed the neural mechanism underlying behavioral improvement following a BCI-based training on children with ADHD," the researchers conclude. "The BCI-based intervention can help re-normalize brain functional network topology among cognitive networks, which is associated with behavioral improvement and facilitate brain maturation in ADHD children. These findings underscore the potential value of BCI-based attention training game as an attractive treatment strategy for ADHD."

Dr. Zhou declined a request for comments on this report.


Transl Psychiatry 2018.

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