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Scientists use a Virtual Reality Game to Diagnose ADHD

by Coffee Table Science

Researchers at Aalto University, Finland, have created an innovative device that could detect attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by using a new digital fact game. The gadget tracks a user’s eye movements as in VR. A VR (Virtual Reality) is a simulated experience that imposes pose tracking and three-dimensional eye display to give the user an experience of the virtual world.

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Development in the study

Despite many years of controversy, ADHD is an extensively agreed-upon neurodevelopmental disorder. A neurodevelopmental disorder is a disorder which hinders the growth of neurons and thus deteriorates brain functioning. Most clinicians agree that the circumstance is real, but how to diagnose it properly is still a question.

ADHD is a very diversified condition, and thus it’s currently only diagnosable through an often troublesome set of behavioral and psychiatric assessments. This kind of diagnosis detects the mind and body functioning of an individual. This new research is analyzed and builds on several recent technological advances which present a VR system to objectively diagnose the condition.

How everyday living habits contribute to the system

The new system made by the researchers is built on a previously developed VR game known as EPELI (Executive Performance in Everyday Living), which offers an objective assessment to detect ADHD through therapeutic approaches to monitor the behavioral symptoms performed by an individual.
Topi Siro, one of the original developers working on EPELI explained that the game consists of some tasks that simulate everyday life, like brushing teeth and eating a banana. The game uses a simple method in which the player has to remember the tasks amid distractions in his surrounding environment, such as music playing or the TV being switched on. The game detects everything, such as how often the child clicks on the controls and how effectively he performs the tasks. As efficiency is directly related to the daily working habits of a person, children with ADHD are measured to perform the task inefficiently.

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Now the system method of working has improved a lot in the terms of accuracy as it detects the tracks and the movement of the eyes. When tracking eye movements and machine’s working some things were identified as not to be present in children with ADHD. The researcher Liya Merzon of Aalto University further said that the VR game has proved to be an effective way of detecting ADHD symptoms as the eye movements of these kinds of children were staring for a longer time at the things in their environment and they passed it quickly from one spot to another. This proves that these children are slower in detecting their visuals because of poor mental functioning than the other children.

Conclusion of the study

Earlier in 2019, a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge presented a system that could differentiate cognitive impairment according to age in comparison to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers working on EPELI are further exploring more besides diagnosing ADHD diagnostic tools. The system is more determined to make it a digital therapy tool that could improve some of the behavioral symptoms linked with ADHD. The purpose of Virtual Reality games is to help behavioral therapists focus the attention of children with ADHD. The development of technology in programs such as EPELI is focused to make everything from diagnosis to treatment feasible.

The new study was published in Scientific Reports

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