Those suffering from schizophrenia were able to alleviate symptoms of the disease by playing a specific video game. The approach was reported to affect a part of the brain associated with verbal hallucinations.
According to the study, published in the journal, Translational Psychiatry, the technique could help schizophrenia patients who do not respond to traditional treatments.
Schizophrenia is thought to affect more than 21 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
The National Institute of Mental Health classifies schizophrenia as a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Symptoms of the disease usually become apparent between ages 16 and 30 and include hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, and everything that can be associated with losing touch with reality.
Approximately 70 percent of those suffering from the condition also hear voices. While medication for this disease exists, it is not effective for about 30 percent of these patients.
The study detailing the new approach was conducted by researchers from King’s College London. Lead author of the study, Dr. Natasza Orlov asked 12 schizophrenic patients to play a video game while in an MRI scanner. All of the participants were reported to experience verbal hallucinations on a daily basis.
The video game involved moving a computerized rocket, a feat which required the patients to use their own mental strategies. The goal was for participants to land the rocket down on Earth.
Researchers claim that the rocket represented the patient’s neural activity in the speech-sensitive area of the brain. After four sessions, the schizophrenia patients were reported to have reduced neural activity. This means that the participants managed to calm themselves to a state where they had control over their hallucinations. The video game ultimately helped the participants learn coping strategies for their hallucinatory symptoms.
“These findings suggest that patients with AVH have the ability to alter activity and connectivity in speech and language regions, “ the researchers noted.
Image Source: WikipediaCommons