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article imageEVO — ADHD Digital therapy using an action video game

By Lesley Lanir     Nov 2, 2015 in Technology
Project: EVO, a video game that taps into cognitive functions and regulates attention may be the first digital intervention to be prescribed as a non-drug-based treatment to improve attention, inhibition and working memory in children with ADHD.
Akili Interactive Labs, Inc. ("Akili"), is a company focused on building clinically validated digital medicine for cognitive assessment and personalised treatment. It has been trialing Project: EVO, a multitasking cognitive trainer in a pediatric attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) pilot study named Akili-001.
Last week, at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's 62nd annual meeting, Akili announced the results from tits Akili-001 pilot study. Findings confirmed Project: EVO is safe and feasible for home intervention and the interactive video game improved attention, inhibition and working memory in children with ADHD.
Project: EVO, described as a "cognitive gaming engine," is a video game that forces players to make split-second decisions to engage what scientists call the brain’s “interference filter,” which prioritises tasks and screens out distractions. It runs on software that automatically adapts to the patient's individual ability level without clinical intervention.
Project: EVO was tested on a total of 80 children between the ages of 8 and 12 years, 40 of whom were diagnosed with ADHD but not taking medication, and 40 of whom had no psychiatric diagnosis. The children used the video game interface on a tablet device at home for 30 minutes per day, five times a week over a four-week period.
Results showed statistically-significant improvements in the ADHD group on multiple outcome measures, including the Attention Performance Index (API) and in impulsivity and variability measurements of the Test of Variable of Attention (T.O.V.A.®), and in multiple measurements on the CANTAB (Cambridge Cognition) spatial working memory test.
Eddie Martucci, co-founder and CEO of Akili said "Project: EVO was designed as medical-grade software that could potentially offer a viable new option or adjunct to pharmaceuticals. This study supports that hypothesis, and we are excited to continue to explore Project: EVO’s utility in pediatric ADHD in larger confirmatory studies.”
Martucci, a vice president at venture firm PureTech Health, co-founded Akili in 2011 to develop non-drug-based treatments for brain maladies. The science for Project: EVO, is based on a platform technology exclusively licensed from the lab of Dr. Adam Gazzaley at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr Gazzaley is Founding Director of the UCSF Neuroscience Imaging Center and Akili's Chief Science Advisor.
Akili says it expects to begin further testing soon to support a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filing for approval to make it the first ever video game that can be prescribed as a therapy.
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