Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Video Game Therapy--a New Frontier"

This is a fantastic story (from CNet, via Kotaku):
Doctors pronounced Ethan Myers brain dead after a car accident dealt the 9-year-old a severe brain injury in 2002. After he miraculously awoke from a nearly month-long coma, doctors declared he would never again eat on his own, walk or talk.

Yet, thanks partly to a video game system, Myers has caught up with his peers in school and even read a speech to a large group of students.

...Ethan and his parents attribute his most recent progress to neurofeedback training on the CyberLearning Technology system, which is often used to play car racing video games.

"In the last year, we've seen the Ethan we knew before the accident," said Howard Myers, the teenager's father.

...CyberLearning's Smart BrainGames system, which Myers still uses, targets symptoms arising from brain injuries, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities.

Users wear a helmet with built-in sensors to measure brain waves. That data is relayed to a neurofeedback system that affects the game controller.

Car racing games work best with the system, which rewards users by telling the controller to allow them to go fast and steer with control, doctors said. When patients' brain waves aren't in "the zone" the controller makes it harder to accelerate and steer.

Incredible, and here's the link:

Now Ethan, buddy, the pressure's on. When you hit your teen years, don't kill anyone. Because you know that shit will get blamed on us.

Seriously, though, if you've played Guitar Hero for any length of time, you can tell it's rewiring your brain. You can practically feel it as you get better. And even though all the game haters are going to find every conceivable reason to fight this, there's no question that games can have all kinds of positive uses.

As long as people are willing to look for them.

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