In Brief

Video game helps calm schizophrenia patients

Study suggests the method could be more effective than ‘years of medication’

Doctors could soon be using a specially designed video game to help people with schizophrenia control some hallucinations. 

A small study, run by a research team from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, allowed participants to monitor their brain activity by controlling a rocket in a game while in an MRI scanner, BBC News reports. 

The game, which stimulates a part of the brain associated with speech, requires participants to use techniques that could “reduce the power of hallucinations”, the news site says.

Results of the study were “encouraging”, says Metro, as schizophrenia patients were “able to reduce neural activity in the speech sensitive region of the brain after just four visits”.

The study is the first of its kind to use “neurofeedback techniques” as a treatment for people with schizophrenia, the website says. 

Dr Natasza Orlov, from King’s College London, said the study showed that developing techniques to reduce the effects of hallucinations appears to be more effective than taking medication for “several years”.

“Although the study sample size is small and we lacked a control group, these results are promising,” she said. “We are now planning to conduct a randomised controlled study to test this technique in a larger sample.”

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