New Irish app can help children with ADHD become more focused
A new Irish company has built an app which helps children train their brain and become more focused.
Cortechs was set up by entrepreneur Áine Behan and is behind the brain-training game Zip and the Misty Mountain, which is being launched this month. Behan herself is a trained neuroscientist who, in an attempt to bring the science of neurofeedback to the masses, left her job in research to start her own tech company.
Neurofeedback, Behan explains to TheJournal.ie, is a form of training the brain, but it’s active learning, and is the core philosophy behind how her products are being designed.
"Neurofeedback helps in retraining the way your brainwaves respond. It measures electrical activity in your brain and can show how focused you are."
Her drive is “developing science-backed alternative solutions to help improve focus in kids, particularly those who have ADHD”. The app is targeted at children aged 6 – 12 who have ADHD or focusing issues. And although the game isn’t designed as a replacement for medication, Behan says that neurofeedback is a “well established” science and is being endorsed by the American Academy of Paediatrics.
The concept of the game is that it is "retraining childrens' brainwaves, that every time they are rewarded – they will get a visual cue that rewards them – they start to understand what is the art of learning to focus, and start finding over sessions that it changes their own behaviour in their own life outside of the game.”
To use the game, the child wears a headset (which has a sensor that sits on the forehead) which sends information to the game via Bluetooth.
To master the first level, they are given a tutorial on focusing and the powers of concentration. As they focus, the sensor picks up on the data their brainwaves are sending, and a focus metre in the top lefthand corner of the screen fills. As this fills, it gives the child new powers in the game.
“They start to associate the focusing with fun and engagement and reward, and the art of learning to focus over repeated sessions changes the way their brain waves react,” said Behan.
The game, designed to be played for a short amount of minutes per day, costs €150. The headset is posted to the parents, and they are also sent a download code to access the app (which is downloaded from the Android store – an iOS version is in the works).
She hopes that Cortechs will launch products aimed at older children and adults in the near future.