VR as Digital ADHD Therapy?

Researchers propose a new approach to ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder with/without Hyperactivity. The solution is based on virtual reality, machine learning, and eye tracking.

It would be an experiment that aims to prove that it is possible to use the differences in eye movements. It would make it possible to detect ADHD and develop a more precise tool for a more reliable diagnosis. At the end of this experiment, researchers should be able to find a suitable therapy to treat ADHD. But they won’t stop there. Another project is in progress. That of making changes to then have the ability to assess other cases, autism in particular.

EPELI: a VR simulation game that will provide the solution to ADHD problems

6% of children have ADHD or Attention Deficit Disorder with/without Hyperactivity. And so far, we have not yet found how to diagnose ADHD better, although we already use questionnaires, subjective observations, or interviews. The test results do not show how well these children can handle everyday situations. 

Researchers from the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and Âbo Akademi University then collaborated to develop a virtual reality game. Their objective: is to be able to assess the symptoms of ADHD utilizing a simulation of the situations that these children face day after day.

Using EPELI, these researchers could closely track the eye movements of children with ADHD. They also used machine learning to identify differences between these same subjects.

According to Liya Merzon, a doctoral student at Alto University, children with ADHD lingered on particular objects in the play environment. It could represent a delay in the processing of information. But also at the level of developing their visual system,” he added.

Finding a therapeutic solution that can excite children

This virtual reality game isn’t just for assessing ADHD symptoms. “We also have the motivation to develop a game that will serve us to find a digital therapy to help ADHD children to be more enthusiastic, “explains a researcher from Aalto University, Juha Salmitaival.

By now, the researchers in charge of the program have already found other applications that can help them identify the daily challenges of these children. There will indeed be changes compared to EPELI, the virtual reality game that can detect ADHD and its symptoms. In particular, the signs of greater gravity: are paralysis and cerebral trauma, language problems, ADHD in adults, etc. And besides, according to Salmitaival, their partners would also have studied certain aging-related diseases: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

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