Video Game Created to Treat ADHD as ‘Digital Medicine’

boys concentrating on video game
Flickr/ Krystian Olszanski

Akili Interactive Labs has reported that they have achieved “Primary Efficacy Endpoint” in what they describe as a “pivotal” trial for an ADHD treatment video game.

Akili has announced its “first-of-its-kind prescription digital medicine” is a tablet-bound action game, which has shown statistically significant progress in both attention and inhibitory control after only four weeks. The study hosted nearly 350 children between the ages of eight and twelve, and is on the road to seek approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Akili CEO Eddie Martucci said that the project is “directly targeting the key neurological pathways that control attention and impulsivity,” as part of a “pipeline of digital treatments” Akili is developing to “[target] cognitive dysfunction in ADHD and other patient populations.”

The purpose of the test, according to Martucci, was to gauge whether the benefits were because of the game itself, or merely a result of “engagement with a treatment that’s exciting and interesting.” He believes that the test indicates that the targeted algorithms of the game itself are providing a measurable benefit. In layman’s terms, that means that we could very well be looking at the first doctor-prescribed video game.

From Fitbits and the questionable efficacy of so-called “brain training” applications, to VR near-death experiences, this is by no means the first effort to use technology to improve our collective physical and mental health. So far, however, the benefits have been hard to quantify in a way that holds up to medical scrutiny. The positive outcome of Akili’s tests suggest that we are turning a new corner — not just in concept, but in real-world execution.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.