The other six lab members sit around the computer screen, but they don't have any regular charts or spreadsheets on their display. Instead, they are working hard to get the cartoon mole out of the murine, or let the chubby spaceship tilt toward the top of the computer screen.
The laboratory director Jeanne Townsend and deputy director Leanne Chukoskie will look at their progress from time to time. This project is atDevelopmentAble to help children with autismvideoThe game, which pushed the two neuroscientists into a strange direction. Chukoskie said: "I found myself doing a lot of computer science research these days." They are still fledgling entrepreneurs. Last year, the two founded a technology company called BrainLeap in San Diego. The two scientists belong to a growing research team who are trying to find new treatments for autism in video game development.
In the past year, some small-scale pilot studies have produced promising results in helping games designed for children with autism. Studies have shown that they can empower these children with a range of abilities such as balance, attention and gaze control. The creators of these games are working hard to prove that these benefits can persist and translate into real benefits in real life. In game terms, they are trying to "upgrade", and if successful, it will be a welcome change to the current state of the game.
Upgrade 1: gamification
James Tanaka, a cognitive psychologist at Victoria University in Canada, resonates with the power of “gamification.” Around 2005, Tanaka developed seven “mini-games” designed to help children with autism recognize faces and explain expressions. He recalled that designing the game was not the original plan, but he and his collaborators learned to correct their methods. "If you want to intervene effectively, you'd better gamify it; it's best to let the children have fun," he said.
The series of games they developed, called "Let's face it," was one of the first games to show improvement in autism in randomized controlled trials and is still influential in this area. Tanaka's ambition in this area is to create an autism game or application that is truly successful in the market. "You must have enough resources; you must be clear about what you are doing."
For over 30 years, Townsend's work has focused on attention issues. She documented how difficult it is for autistic patients to divert attention, such as shifting their gaze to a new object. They also strive to make their eye movements fast, eye-shaking, smooth and accurate like the average person. Townsend said: "Obviously, this greatly interferes with social interaction." If your eyes jump to the wrong place at the wrong time, it is easy to miss subtle social cues.
Other researchers are using the Nintendo Wii Fit board to create video games designed to exercise. Balance problems are common in people with autism and can make everyday skills such as dressing challenging. Brittany Travers, an assistant professor of kinematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that although the causal relationship between these observations is unclear, balance and other motor skills often coincide with poor social skills and repetitive behavior. .
Rapidly evolving technologies are helping to fill some of the economic and intellectual gaps. Erik Linstead, assistant professor of computer science at Chapman University in California, says the growing popularity of augmented reality and virtual reality means that researchers can even train complex social behaviors through games.
Upgrade 2: Implement "transfer"
Almost anyone who plays video games will play better if they practice more. However, the key is whether you can do better in the game "transfer" to get the benefits of real life.
Chukoskie believes that RAD Labs games will avoid similar pitfalls because they use eye tracking technology to connect directly to the player's physical state. "You are interacting with the game," she said. "So you are not just playing games, but modifying the game on the basis of self-expression. In our case, it is gazing." This method is called " "Neurogames" is part of the new-born movement that makes it easier to convert real-life skills.
In a small pilot study published this year, eight adolescents who played autism played 30 minutes of “Shock Digger” and “Mushroom Mushrooms” every day for five times a week. 8 weeks. At the end of the time, six of the people who completed the study improved their scores in their attention, gaze control, or both. The researchers also surveyed the parents of these teenagers to see if these advances would benefit their daily life skills. These reports say that children's attention has generally improved.
For most autistic video games under development, the results so far provide indirect or subjective evidence only for the effectiveness of the game. However, technology can provide a solution. Chukoskie and Townsend are experimenting with eye-tracking glasses that reveal how a person's visual attention changes in real life. They also attempted to “gamification” some of the laboratory assessments to embed them into the game, providing objective measures for schools and parents to track their children's progress.
Upgrade 3: Explain autism
Scientists who design video games for autism need a clear path: make the game fascinating, but not too eye-catching. Every 20 minutes of play by a child means that you don’t participate in social activities for 20 minutes. For autistic patients, the temptation to stay in the virtual world can be particularly strong. University of Virginia at CharlottesvilleeducationAssociate Professor Micah Mazurek found that autistic adults are more addicted to video games than their peers.
Autism also poses other obstacles to the success of these game-based methods. Travers observed that some children who installed the Wii system at home developed some habits when playing games, such as holding the remote control in a special way, which prevented the "Ninja Training" game from playing. In the pilot study of the RAD Lab game, two of the first eight participants eventually had to quit: one teenager decided to disassemble the game system for repair; another teenager was too nervous about playing the game. So that he gets up at 5 am every morning to start early.
The Boston-based software company Akili Interactive is trying to alleviate these problems by using its product "Project: EVO" as a training program rather than a game. "It's designed to make people like it and bring the picture to the level of video games," said Elysa Marco, a pediatric neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. "But it has no time limit and no reward." Marco said it played. The rhythm and reward time have been carefully adjusted to allow children to stay focused while not being addicted to it.
Preliminary studies have shown that the program can help children with ADHD and those with sensory treatment disorders. In the end, Akili wants approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to address the issue of attention, including the attention of children with autism.
Upgrade 4: Immersive World
In addition to the therapeutic potential, these specially designed video games may have other benefits. “Game supports control and exploration, and they are a safe way to try things.” Chukoskie said, “Many children have experienced many failures. Playing well can also be a good medicine to ease the difficulties of making friends.”
In early June of this year, the lab's internship program provided an opportunity for 25 college students with autism, each with an internship of up to 10 weeks. The goal is to get these interns to receive career counseling and mentoring, and to do programming and art work for the next version of the game suite. In this way, the project is almost like a real-world video game – a safe space for young people to learn the hidden rules of the workplace, and let them master some skills, such as constructively expressing criticism, or in different Quick switching between projects, etc.
Townsend has been hiring young people with autism to help in the lab. She said video games are "an ideal project. Many young people are already programming."
Baramki-Azar is an avid player who has played Super Smash Brothers in local tournaments and is currently immersed in My World, Tetris and Dance Revolution. After seeing Chukoskie speak at a local science museum, he went straight to Chukoskie and asked to participate in the project. He said that he was very interested in the idea of using video games to collect research data. "You may get better results because it is not boring."
In the experimental study, Chukoskie met many young people like Baramki-Azar. Many of them have no jobs or are attending school, and she realizes that they can solve lab programming problems. “There are some very smart people who are involved in our game and they give me feedback.” She said, “Why can't these people get involved?” Chukoskie said with a smile, such as the midway exit in the experimental study and wants The teenager who opened the system, "We should hire him."