I am working on a training system for ADHD sufferers to improve concentration and focus using neurofeedback (a form of biofeedback) to let them know when they are maintaining focus – a preferrable state (http://autism-nutrition.com/autism-neurofeedback-training-benefits).
Traditional nerofeedback therapy can be found at a growing number of mental health care facilities, with some benefits seen as early as a handful of sessions but some instances requiring up to a hundred before significant changes are observed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK_Fs9I0TG0). Treatments run from $20/each to plans that can cost several thousands of dollars per month. Fortunately, many medical insurance companies now recognize the value of neurotherapy in the treatment of ADHD, Asperger’s and other Autism Spectrum Disorders, Epilepsy and other ailments and may cover part of the cost of treatment (check with your insurance company).
I wanted to provide my son with an accessible, available neurofeedback system that could be integrated into something he loves to do – video games seemed the easy answer in this analysis. But the selection of video games that integrate neurofeedback systems remains somewhat limited, while his gaming interests shift regularly as he “beats” one game and then another. I decided to develop an interface for the game controller itself that could respond to his level of focus – either by providing haptic feedback (using the controller’s vibration systems) or by reducing controller responsiveness when he is unfocused and enhancing it when his focus sharpens.
I am acquiring a NeuroSky MindWave device, which has developer tools for the Arduino microcontroller I often use for workshops. Using this single-electrode brainwave monitor, I will be creating an interface that can be used with any game by modifying the gaming experience to include neurofeedback to the player, allowing the development of concentration and focus while enjoying the latest version of Tron, Star Wars or Sonic the Hedgehog (some of my son’s favorites).
I will continue to blog about this effort after I receive the MindWave and start building the Neuroduino test interface.