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Can biofeedback-based videogames help kids regulate anger and emotions?

Video Game With Biofeed­back Teaches Chil­dren to Curb Their Anger (Sci­ence Daily):

Chil­dren with seri­ous anger prob­lems can be helped by a sim­ple video game that hones their abil­ity to reg­u­late their emo­tions, finds a pilot study at Boston Children’s Hos­pi­tal. Results were pub­lished online Octo­ber 24 in the jour­nal Ado­les­cent Psy­chi­a­try…The fast-paced game involves shoot­ing at enemy space­ships while avoid­ing shoot­ing at friendly ones. As chil­dren play, a mon­i­tor on one fin­ger tracks their heart rate and dis­plays it on the com­puter screen. When heart rate goes above a cer­tain level, play­ers lose their abil­ity to shoot at the enemy space­ships. To improve their game, they must learn to keep calm.”

Study: Aug­ment­ing Anger Con­trol Ther­apy with a Videogame Requir­ing Emo­tional Con­trol: A Pilot Study on an Inpa­tient Psy­chi­atric Unit  (Ado­les­cent Psychiatry)

  • Abstract: Emo­tional dys­reg­u­la­tion in child­hood, which has been linked to sig­nif­i­cant social prob­lems in older ado­les­cence, is one of the most com­mon rea­sons for pedi­atric men­tal health treat­ment and psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal­iza­tions. Behav­ioral approaches to treat­ment for these dis­or­ders are lim­ited, how­ever, result­ing in increas­ing use of restraints and psy­chotropic drugs. A pilot study was imple­mented on an inpa­tient psy­chi­atric unit to eval­u­ate fea­si­bil­ity and pro­vide proof of con­cept for a novel behav­ioral inter­ven­tion com­prised of anger con­trol ther­apy (ACT), a cognitive-behavioral ther­apy inter­ven­tion, aug­mented by RAGE-Control, a videogame that trains play­ers to reg­u­late phys­i­o­log­i­cal arousal in a chal­leng­ing but con­trolled sit­u­a­tion. Patients (N=18, 9–17 years old) with high lev­els of anger doc­u­mented by the State Trait Anger Expres­sion Inventory-Child and Ado­les­cent (STAXI-CA) were enrolled in a 5-session inter­ven­tion (Exper­i­men­tal group). Changes in STAXI-CA State-Anger and Trait-Anger scores from base­line to Day 5 were com­pared to those of a demo­graph­i­cally com­pa­ra­ble treat­ment as usual (TAU) his­toric con­trol group (N=19). The Exper­i­men­tal group showed large reduc­tions in STAXI-CA scores, com­pared to the TAU group. Com­pli­ance and sat­is­fac­tion were high. These find­ings sup­port the fea­si­bil­ity of the ACT with RAGE-Control inter­ven­tion. Ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­als aug­ment­ing ACT with the RAGE-Control game are needed to estab­lish efficacy.

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