My job, you’ll be surprised to hear, involves an awful lot of thinking about videogames. I think about them as toys, as pieces of art, as arenas for competition and, if I’m feeling pretentious, as tools for expanding my mind. What I don’t often get to do is think about them as part of a medical treatment.
In a small study, researchers have found that schizophrenia patients can learn to control the part of their brain linked to verbal hallucinations by playing a videogame. While inside an MRI scanner, the participants were shown a rocket that responded to changes in the speech sensitive region of their brain. Almost all of the 12 participants managed to safely land the rocket by employing their own mental strategies, using feedback from the game to manage their verbal hallucinations.