Neurogaming: Turning your brain into a Joystick

How cool would it be to control a character in a game using just your thoughts? Well that’s exactly what happens in Neuro-gaming, where neuroscience meets video gaming. The developers ingeniously use brain-computer interfaces wherein a gadget similar to an EEG is programmed to read electrical signals from the surface of the brain, from muscles or from the body. These signals are then relayed to the computer which transforms them into visual effects. These games are especially important from a neuropsychiatric point of view since they can be employed to help control emotions and thoughts. One such example is the game “Throw Trucks with Your Mind”. This game requires that the player optimizes both the level of calm and concentration by focusing on a single thought. The player needs to both block out distractions and relax, a kind of meditation with real time results. Once a threshold is met the screen character representing the player is charged up enough to pick up an object and hurl it at other players. Lat Ware, the developer of this game got the idea when as a child with ADHD his parents took him for sessions of neurofeedback therapy. This form of therapy allows individuals to visualize their brain waves so that they can slow them down or speed them up to heighten focus and calm. He then took this idea one step further and turned it into a game so that users had better acceptability. His game has proven effective in helping manage individuals with both anxiety disorders and ADHD. Similar games may be developed in the future to help augment methods of psychotherapy for treatment of mental health problems.

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