Project: EVO, an iOS-based video game intervention, may be an effective method for improving attention and memory in children with ADHD, according to a poster presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s 62nd annual meeting.
Developed by Akili Interactive Labs, the game was developed to assess and treat cognitive issues, presenting users with a racing-like environment where they should navigate an alien down a course by tilting a smartphone or tablet back and forth. Along the way, the user must also respond to targets by tapping the screen. In the background, the algorithm keeps track of movements, and quickly adapts the intensity of the game to the player.
For the ADHD study, researchers from Florida Clinical Research Center, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Duke University School of Medicine recruited 80 children between the ages of 8 and 12. Within the group, 40 children had ADHD, but were not taking medications, and 40 had no psychiatric diagnosis. The participants used Project: EVO on a tablet for 30 minutes per day, five times a week, for four weeks. The goal of the study were to assess the intervention’s feasibility, determining whether it is safe to use in the home, and measuring the efficacy of the offering.
On the first day of the trial, researchers recorded baseline outcome measures for each of the participants. Then, for the following 27 days, participants used the app five times a day for 30 minutes with researchers notifying parents if a child did not use the app for 48 hours.
At the end of the pilot, researchers found that there was an 81 percent compliance rate, with participants playing the game for 9.1 hours over 4 weeks, on average. A majority of participants’ parents, 77 percent, said the game was either very worthwhile or somewhat worthwhile for their child. A total of nine adverse events were tracked, but none of them were related to the intervention. The best part was that were no dropouts within the ADHD group.
For the ADHD study, researchers recruited 80 children between the ages of 8 and 12, 40 of whom had ADHD, but were not taking medications.“While results are preliminary, these data provide a strong rationale for continued work to develop this novel, digital intervention for ADHD,” said Scott Kollins, the principal investigator as well as the director of the ADHD Program at Duke University School of
Going forward, Akili Interactive Labs plans to launch a large, randomized, controlled study to further validate the efficacy and safety of Project: EVO as a treatment for pediatric ADHD. This [future] study will then be used to support an FDA filing for the app.
Earlier this year, Akili partnered with not-for-profit subsidiary of Autism Speaks, Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA), over an efficacy study of Project: EVO, with children that have high-functioning autism and ADHD.