Futurity

To treat depression with games, remind users to play

Certain messages about depression and reminders to play depression-fighting games could make this sort of treatment more effective, experiments suggest.

Reminders to play depression-fighting video games and “brain-training” apps prompt users to not only play more often, but also spend more time in each session, say researchers.

“Through the use of carefully designed persuasive message prompts…mental health video games can be perceived and used as a more viable and less attrition-ridden treatment option,” the researchers write in a paper published in Computers in Human Behavior.

The messages, and subsequent assigned games, target depression that could be perceived as either internal—caused by a chemical imbalance or hereditary factor—or from outside factors, such as a job or relationship situation.

The messaging had slight differences in approach, but ended on basic inspirational notes to inspire the participant to play the game. Each message ended with: “Just like a regular workout, much of the benefit of these tasks comes from using them without taking breaks and putting in your best effort.”

Each of six, three-minute games in the study was an adaptation of neurophysiological training tasks that have been shown to improve cognitive control among people experiencing depression.

Portraying depression as something caused internally because of biological factors and providing a video game-based app for brain training made users feel that they could do something to control their depression. The finding supports other research showing that brain-training games have the potential to induce cognitive changes. Users also gave the app’s usability high ratings.

On the other hand, portraying depression as a condition caused by external factors led users to spend more time playing the game—again, perhaps giving them a feeling of control over their situation. But researchers say this result was likely due to immediate engagement and was unlikely to have long-term benefits.

The study looked at results from 160 student volunteers who said they suffered from mild depression. They received class credit for participating. Three-fourths were women, and more than half of the subjects were of Asian heritage, followed by white, Latino, and other ethnicities. The average age was 21. Whether playing the games actually reduced depression will be part of future studies.

Source: UC Davis

The post To treat depression with games, remind users to play appeared first on Futurity.

More from Futurity

Futurity3 min read
Millipede Fossil Takes ‘World’s Oldest Bug’ Title
A 425-million-year-old millipede fossil from the Scottish island of Kerrera is the “world’s oldest bug,” researchers say. It’s older than any known fossil of an insect, arachnid, or other related creepy-crawly, according to new research. The findings
Futurity2 min read
Speedy Action Can Save Vision After An Occipital Stroke
After an occipital stroke, it may be possible for patients to recover more of their vision than previously known, researchers report. A person who has a stroke that causes vision loss often hears that nothing can improve or regain the lost vision. Bu
Futurity2 min read
Chimp Lip Smacks Hint At Human Speech Evolution
A new study on chimpanzee communication supports one of the most promising theories for the evolution of human speech. The evolution of speech is one of the longest-standing puzzles of evolution. Inklings of a possible solution started emerging some