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New Video Game Shows Promise In Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder

As many as three million children in the United States are being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder. And they're not the only ones. 4.4 percent of the adult population have A.D.D. or a related disorder, making it the second most common psychological problem in adults after depression. VOA's Paige Kollock reports on a new 'game' that might be able to help them.

Medical studies have shown that television and video games may contribute to the rise in Attention Deficit Disorder, especially in children.

Doctor Stephen Hinshaw of the University of California researches children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He says, "Very fast paced media are in some ways overwhelming the young brains."

Now a company called Unique Logic and Technology has created a video game that helps re-train those young brains. It's called "Play Attention," and the company claims it can teach your brain how to pay attention. It works by using a helmet that has sensors.

The sensors can tell whether or not the user is paying attention. In conjunction with computer software, the sensors teach the user what it feels like to pay attention and reward them for paying attention for longer periods. Over time, the user acquires the skill of concentration.

Former Principal Pat Faulkner says the $1,795 program is worth the money. “I think Play Attention was worth every penny they ever spent on it, and all the time that was spent on it, because it has the power to change a child's life. When a child can learn to participate in class, then he can learn, and that's a life changing experience."

Adults are using Play Attention too. While the U.S. Women's Olympic bobsled team may not have A.D.D, using Play Attention helps them increase their focus, which gives them a competitive edge.

Educators say the game takes between eight and 12 months to become permanently effective. From that point on, they say, users can fall back on the skill for the rest of their lives.