Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Symptoms also include repetitive behaviors and activities. The CDC estimates that 1 in 68 children are affected by ASD.

In a recent study published in Frontiers In Neuroengineering, the authors, a team of researchers from University of California and Heriot-Watt University, UK, discuss how brain-computer interface games may be used in the treatment of children with ASD.

Using play is a great way to engage children and to help enhance their cognitive, social and motor skills. This particular study focused on a series of games that the user plays via a BCI system, which picks up the users brain wave states and transmits positive feedback. Combining the BCI system with neurofeedback proved to be an effective way of positively reinforcing behavior patterns, social interaction, emotion and cognition.

NeuroSky’s Focus Pocus is a game designed for children with learning difficulties, such as ADHD, and may also be affective for children with ASD. The game uses the NeuroSky MindWave wireless headset, which records the user’s brainwaves and integrates the information into the game as it is played. The aim of the game is to help improve the user’s ability to contrite, impulse control and memory skills.

Each time a child plays Focus Pocus, the game synchronizes with an online parental reporting application known as FocusIn. This feedback system enables parents to log in and read a report of the player’s performance. The report differentiates five areas of ability: control, memory, focus, relax and Zen, and highlights areas in which the child needs improvement. The application also gives the parent explanations of each targeted area and recommends tips to aid improvement.

In Focus Pocus, the player takes on the role of a young wizard who is immersed in a magical world filled with spells, dragons and zombies and has to complete a range of mini-games under the guidance of a wise Wizard Master. This innovative combination of BCI and fun/educational gaming is sure to please kids and parents alike.

Image credit: teendiaries.net

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