Let games begin for ADHD children

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Dr Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, says “first-person shooter” games, such as Call of Duty, had been shown to “benefit high cognitive abilities”.
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

Children who struggle to concentrate in class should be given a “personalised prescription” of video games to boost their performance, an expert has claimed.

Dr Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, said concentrated doses of gaming could improve memory and multitasking and should be used by schools to assist children with attention-deficit disorders.

He said “first-person shooter” games, such as Call of Duty, had been shown to “benefit high cognitive abilities”, including focusing for long periods and multitasking.

There have been years of research, including a study co-authored by Gazzaley in 2016, which found children on a training programme of 25 online cognitive exercises exhibited significant improvements in focus.

But his claims are likely to divide opinion in the education sector, amid growing concern that excessive exposure to the internet and television could be contribute to children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Gazzaley, whose 2008 video game, NeuroRacer, could soon be used to treat types of brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s, said certain games could improve the “brain’s plasticity” – its ability to repair and improve under certain conditions.

“If these [games] could be used to improve the functions of the brain, we could make a big difference,” he said.

But Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education at the University of Buckingham, said Gazzaley’s claims were not definitive and should be “taken with a pinch of salt”.

“The effectiveness of these studies needs to be judged with some care,” Smithers said.

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