A private day school in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan’s East Side Churchill specializes in educating children with attention problems, and as one of their
therapies they’re piloting a game, created by a Massachusetts outfit called Atentiv.
Developed in collaboration with Duke University neuroscientist Ranga Krishnan, it’s part of a burgeoning field called therapeutic neurogaming, which turns the mechanics of digital games into actual therapy that its proponents say can calm kids down, focus them, and help them overcome debilitating conditions like ADHD, anxiety disorder, depression, and even, in the near future, certain types of autism, so they can concentrate on schoolwork.
It’s built on two basic ideas: First, that the brain is “plastic” for far longer than scientists once believed, so healing can be achieved in school children of all ages
without drugs, through basic neurofeedback therapy.
Second, that therapy doesn’t just happen it requires work and patience and a regular dose of practice. Since games encourage people to spend time playing them, the theory
goes, players will return to them regularly. Patients are more likely to make progress with a therapeutic game than with regular therapy that may be tiresome or dull. In
medical terms, people who are playing an absorbing game will take all of their medicine.
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