Scientists are Using Video Games to Ease Schizophrenia

One bespoke video game, that is.

Mental illnesses are unfortunately common, and their treatment not always taken seriously. Even then, efforts are being made to help make schizophrenia a bit easier to handle. Now Scientists have found that video games can help reduce schizophrenic hallucinations.

It’s not quite that simple, I’m afraid. Researchers at the King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and the University of Roehampton have developed a game where patients control a rocket connected to the brain region sensitive to speech and human voices. The patient is hooked up to an MRI scanner and asked to operate the rocket using their mind.

This case study consisted of 12 individuals who experienced harsh verbal hallucinations every day – a common symptom of schizophrenia. Those with this condition are known to have a more sensitive auditory cortex. The results of the study showed that these individuals were able to “turn down the volume” of these voices when they used their auditory cortex to control the rocket.

This is a small pilot study, however, and the findings still need to be confirmed. Such is the scientific process, is all.

Professor Sukhi Shergill from King’s spoke on the matter. She hopes this information can lead to more people being able to ease their symptoms from home.

“While this is preliminary data, it’s particularly promising that patients were able to control their brain activity even without the MRI scanning – suggesting that this may be a strategy that people, who have followed the MRI neuro-feedback training protocol, can benefit from at home.”

The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Written by: Branden Lizardi

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