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Virtual Brain Training

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Sara Bellum
June 17, 2010

Imagine you are a teen with ADHD. It’s hard for you to focus in class, your mind wanders everywhere, and even though you want to do well in class you’d much rather be outside shooting hoops. Although you take notes, it’s hard for you to remember the teacher’s instructions. So after a medical evaluation, your doctor prescribes stimulants to help you focus. That’s what happened to NIDA’s second place Addiction Science Award winner, Kevin Knight, a 17-year-old junior at Collegiate High School in Niceville, Florida. Based on his own experience, Kevin wanted to know if there were other ways besides medication to train his brain to focus.

So he decided to take a scientific look at computer programs designed to improve focus and memory with his project, "Improving ADHD Treatment: A Comparison of Stimulant Medication Treatment for Children with ADHD."

Computerized Cognitive Training of Attention and Working Memory, and the Combination of the Two," took a lot of work (even more than coming up with that title!) He worked with doctors to find teenage volunteers with ADHD to see if they could improve their focus and memory by playing computer “brain games.”

Kevin was surprised by what he learned. The best outcomes came with kids who took their medication AND used the computer programs. They had better focus and better memory. Kevin even tested himself, and improved his own ability to focus. This suggests that computer games used with medications could be part of an effective approach for treating ADHD.

Why was this given an “Addiction Science” award? Because the medications prescribed for ADHD, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are stimulants, and stimulants can be abused. Some kids even give or sell the pills to their friends, which can be dangerous. For more information on stimulants taken for ADHD, check out http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/ADHD.html.

NIDA’s Addiction Science award is given at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which was in San Jose this year. For more information on NIDA’s 3 winners, see NIDA’s news release at http://www.nida.nih.gov/newsroom/10/NR5-14.html

What is part of your personal experience that might be the basis of a cool science fair project?

Comments

Really good information...

I'm presently looking into this whole ADHD area for my son, who I reckon needs help.
It appears that specialized training may provide substantial improvements in academic scores, and as a consequence, improvement in socializing ability.
There are a few companies that can provide appropriate training. I just came across one. I am sure there must be others and I am going to keep looking. Maybe I'll post my findings back here, or if anyone else can recommed a good training program, also, please post.

Thanks

ADHD is a serious issue, although I do wonder how we all survived before ADHD was so frequently diagnosed as it is today?

I will come back again, that is nice site. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

Finding a good activity for kids is a great way to pull that scattered attention into a fine focal point. I've been teaching martial arts for a few years now, and I've seen a lot of kids who were bouncing off walls, really straighten up, and they've become some of my best students. I also run a blog [commercial link removed, per guidelines] if anyone wants to see some martial arts strategies.

I think its great that playing computer games can be used for something helpful as well as entertainment, but could this also help people who dont have ADHD focus more?

I think that this is really good information that can help parents that have kids with ADHD to focus more.

Finding the new way for people to get out of drugs and stand up by their own ability, with his project, so many people will get help so they do not have to depen on drugs the whole life and obviously it will have the time when drugs can't help you anymore and you don' know how to do by yourself

Yes, this is a good method. It gets the brain thinking hard and focused. Using memory does just that.

This is very good content. Had a cousin who also had ADHD. We made him take his prescribed drugs and also engaged him in online brain training games by [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

The improvement was good. Yes indeed, it is better for the kids to take the games while on their recommended drugs....I can testify to that. Thanks

This method is really amazing.Its working good.

ADHD is an important phenomena on this day.I think this treatment plays an important role in society.For teens it is a good news.........
Thanks for this excellent work.

As a martial arts instructor, I have to recommend a sport for good, body and brain.
i have ADHD and I take Ritalin. It would be good if there was an alternative, because ritalin has a lot of side effects. You are never hungry, so when you get home you eat a whole lot. if you take too much, you are tired all day, and you're anxious. My mom says it makes me "surly." However, it does help you concentrate, but if you could come up with an alternative or a natural (@larry sterling) medicine like neosporin, that would be nice.
i have ADHD and I take Ritalin. It would be good if there was an alternative, because ritalin has a lot of side effects. You are never hungry, so when you get home you eat a whole lot. if you take too much, you are tired all day, and you're anxious. My mom says it makes me "surly." However, it does help you concentrate, but if you could come up with an alternative or a natural (@larry sterling) medicine like neosporin, that would be nice.

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