Children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) show signs of improvement after playing a videogame for 30 minutes a day rather than taking a pill, the U.S. company developing the treatment said on Wednesday.
Diagnoses for ADHD have risen in recent decades, and some 9.5 percent of children aged 3-17 in the United States had the condition in 2012, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children in the pilot study - 80 aged between eight and 12, half of which had ADHD - showed improved working memory and levels of attention, and some parent ratings of symptoms also rose, according to the results presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's 62nd annual meeting.
The company, Akili Interactive Labs, said it would now "move full steam ahead" into a full randomized trial, that if successful would support a filing with U.S. regulator, the FDA.
Medicating the condition is big business, with Shire - a leading maker of ADHD drugs, including Vyvanse - saying there were 63 million prescriptions for the condition in the United States last year, with just under half for children.
Shire is an investor in Akili Interactive Labs, which was founded by start-up investor PureTech Health.
Eddie Martucci, co-founder and chief executive of Akili Interactive Labs, said the videogame might also be used in conjuction with medication.
Called Project EVO, the game is designed to improve a child's ability to process "cognitive interference" - or multiple streams of information - potentially helping problem solving ability, working memory and attention, Martucci said.
In the game, the player has to steer a character down a river while making decisions about objects that appear on screen.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)