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Schizophrenia patients calmed by video game

From BBC - February 11, 2018

People with schizophrenia can be trained by playing a video game to control the part of the brain linked to verbal hallucinations, researchers say.

Patients in a small study were able to land a rocket in the game when it was connected to the brain region sensitive to speech and human voices.

In time, the patients learnt to use the technique in their daily lives to reduce the power of hallucinations.

But this is a small pilot study and the findings still need to be confirmed.

The research team, from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and the University of Roehampton, says the technique could be used to help schizophrenia patients who do not respond to medication.

People with the condition are known to have a more active auditory cortex, which means they are more sensitive to sounds and voices.

All 12 patients in the study experienced nasty and threatening verbal hallucinations every day - a common symptom of schizophrenia.

To try to control their symptoms, they were asked to play a video game while in an MRI scanner, using their own mental strategies to move a computerised rocket - and in doing so they were able to turn down the volume on the external voices they heard as well.

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