It seems that the long arm of medical industry law is now stretching to technology. The company Brain Plasticity is now negotiating with the FDA to market a cognitive training game as a “therapeutic drug”. There is a great deal of room for debate within the scope of this topic and it seems like there are more than enough people with opinions to fuel both sides. There are some things you should know though before hoping on the bandwagon.
The first thing to point out is that using games in the mental health field is nowhere near a novel concept. Games range from the mundane games played with autistic students using token economies to the advanced techniques of Biofeedback, which train your brain to control various physiological functions that it does not normally control for purposes such as controlling Tourette syndrome.
Now the term game can be misleading. A game is a loose term with positive connotations, so of course we are going to use it to describe things that may otherwise be considered work. The inference that you will be prescribed video games is grossly misleading. Trust me when I tell you that you are not going to be sent home from the doctor’s office with a prescription to get five levels in WoW before your next visit. It is not going to happen. Now keep in mind that that will not stop developers from making these games as fun as they can. It is the same frame of mind of wanting to make sure that the pill you make looks good, tastes as not gross as possible, and has as few side effects as possible.
You have seen a tremendous amount of games from Sudoku to Brain Age that let you know they improve mental health and for the most part, they are mostly full of shit. Your everyday life will provide you with plenty of stimulation to get you by. Now when you start talking about older individuals who do not lead active lives or who are at risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, then you have a winner. The point being that there is little to no proof that cognitive stimulation works for the average Joe.
This is exactly why they FDA getting into the mix is a fantastic thing. They may not be perfect at their job but they will definitely make games who want to claim health benefits put their money where their mouths are. This will not stop games like Brain Age from being made or marketed as exercise for your brain, and it is in some ways. What it will do is open up the possibility cognitive games that will help people to the possibility of being covered by health insurance, in addition to making games prove their mental health worth.
Make no mistake that FDA approval is a pioneering endeavor. What it will lead to is anyone’s guess. I think it makes for a promising outlook of the future. What do you think?
All Geeks Considered
Source Article: Maker of cognitive training game seeks FDA approval