The game is currently being deployed in about a half dozen clinical trials, testing its effectiveness for improving function in kids with ADHD (in collaboration with Shire) and autism, treating depression (with the National Institutes of Health), and detecting early signs of Alzheimers disease (with Pfizer). Imagine picking up your medication and finding a software code on the package that directs you to a complementary game. On the surface, these conditions may seem to have little connection. But there is a common thread, says Eddie Martucci, Akilis vice president of research and development: All of these populations have strong deficits in executive function and the processing of cognitive interference, or noise. While Akilis prototype game is designed for universal appeal–ADHD kids love it, and compliance in the 70-plus depression group is also sky high, Martucci says–future iterations will update visuals and other game elements to appeal to specific groups of users. Akilis creative team includes veterans of Lucas Digital Arts and Electronic Arts. Unlike consumer brain fitness games such as Lumosity s, which make vague claims about training memory and attention but dont need to prove theyre actually doing anything, Akili wants full FDA approval and acceptance by the medical mainstream. Were building medical devices, going after very deep neurological or psychological disorders that have multimillion-dollar drug models, says Martucci. Doctors are willing and open-minded, but at the end of the day, if theyre going to recommend games to patients, they need more clinical validation. Over the next few years, youll see lots of studies coming out, and well see disease solutions that include prescriptions for pills as well as highly engaging games. Plan-It Commander According to a 2013 CDC report, 11% of all school-age children in the U.S.–or more than 6 million kids between ages 4 and 17–have been diagnosed with ADHD.
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