Can Video Games Help Treat Mental Health? (You & Your Health)

Interesting piece on KNAU (Arizona Public Radio) titled “Will Doctors Soon Be Prescribing Video Games For Mental Health?” You can listen to the story here.

A California neuroscientist created a video game focused on multitasking. In a New York Times article highlighting the game, the reporter said it was difficult to play with so many things all happening at once. The game’s creator, Adam Gazzaley, thinks this kind of challenge will have a positive effect on brain function.

The game, called Project:Evo, is generating a lot of attention and Gazzaley sees great potential to use these types of brain games for a range of psychiatric disorders: post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s disease.

He’s hoping there will come a day when, instead of a pill, a video game might be prescribed to treat someone with ADHD.

Skeptics are not so sure.  According to the Public Radio story, Psychology professor Randall Engle is one of 75 scientists who signed a letter addressed to the brain training industry, criticizing companies for exaggerating claims and preying on the anxieties of elderly customers trying to stave off memory decline.

Engle says the commercialization of these games has harmed brain research. What do you think? Can video games play a role in mental health?


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