A Recently Released Study Shows That a “Rocket Game” Helped Those Suffering from Schizophrenia
A neuroscience study released on Monday, which involved 12 patients who suffered from schizophrenia, showed that the patients could train themselves to control the regions of their brains that caused the verbal hallucinations to occur.
The pilot study was held at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and the University of Roehampton and researchers found that this method could be an alternative for schizophrenics who don’t respond to medication.
According to an official King’s College news post about the study, medication is “ineffective” for around 30% of schizophrenic patients and 70% of them hear the highly disturbing hallucinatory voices.
Researchers were able to design a “neurofeedback” technique that allowed the patients to see their own neural activity in the brain region that deals with speech. Said activity was represented in a space rocket videogame and patients were instructed to land the rocket on Earth. They weren’t told how to control the rocket but instead had to figure out how to complete their objective on their own.
After four visits to the study’s MRI scanner, patients were able to “reduce neural activity in the speech sensitive region of the brain and were able to control their brain activity without the visual feedback from the space rocket.”
With their training complete, the patients learned valuable techniques to quell their verbal hallucinations.
“We encouraged our patients to use the same control strategies that they learnt in the MRI scanner at home,” explained Dr. Natasza Orlov, one of the researchers for the study.
“The patients know when the voices are about to start – they can feel it, so we want them to immediately put this aid into effect to lessen them, or stop the voices completely.”
“Our study has shown that people with schizophrenia can learn some sort of mental strategy to help their symptoms – something which several years of medication has not helped with,” she said.
Even though their study sample size was small and they had no control group, Orlov said that the results were “promising” and that the research team are planning on conducting a randomized controlled study with a larger group of patients.
What do you think of this study? Do you think that video games can help people who suffer from mental illness? Let us know in the comments below!