Combining virtual reality games with eye tracking and machine learning systems could show differences in eye movements and lead to early detection of conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), scientists say. said the person.
ADHD affects approximately 6% of children worldwide, and despite decades of research, ADHD diagnosis still relies on questionnaires, interviews, and subjective observations and testing. The results are equivocal, say researchers, including those from Aalto University in Finland.
Children with ADHD face attention deficits, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that can persist into adulthood.
In a new study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers developed a virtual reality game called EPELI. This game could potentially be used to assess ADHD symptoms by simulating everyday life situations.
The experiment included 37 children diagnosed with ADHD and a control group of 36 children.
The children played EPELI and another game, Shoot the Target. In this game, players are instructed to find objects in the environment and “shoot” at them.
Scientists say EPELI gives kids a list of tasks that simulate everyday life, like brushing their teeth or eating a banana.
These tasks require the player to remember the task despite distractions in the environment, such as the TV being turned on.
The game evaluates how children play, such as how many times they click controls and how efficiently they perform tasks.
“Efficiency correlates with daily functioning, but children with ADHD often struggle,” said Topi Shiro, one of the study’s authors.
Researchers used this game and a machine learning and eye tracking setup to track the natural eye movements of children as they performed different tasks in a virtual reality game.
“Children with ADHD’s gaze stayed longer on different objects in the environment, and their gaze jumped from one place to another faster and more often,” said co-author of the study at Aalto University. Liya Merzon explained.
“This may indicate that their visual system is underdeveloped and that they process information less well than other children,” she explained.
In further research, scientists hope to test broader therapeutic applications of virtual reality games.
“We have demonstrated that combining a naturalistic VR task with eye tracking enables accurate prediction of attentional deficits, paving the way for accurate diagnosis,” the scientists said in the study. I am writing to
They believe that games like this could be used in the future as an aid to ADHD rehabilitation because they can collect behavioral information while controlling exactly what happens in the stimulus world.
“We want to develop a gamification-based digital therapy that can help children with ADHD get excited to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” said the project leader. said Juha Salmitaival of
Researchers say VR games could also be further developed to measure activity planning and flexibility issues in people with autism.
With a few modifications, they say, games could also be developed that assess language problems, brain trauma, ADHD in adults, and even age-related memory decline.