A video game developer in a University of Utah lab has received a $ 7.5 million grant from the National Mental Health Institute to conduct clinical trials for its further development. The game is called Neuro-growth and is designed to treat older people with depression. Neuro-growth allows players to take care of a virtual garden with changing circumstances. The gameplay aims to strengthen the circuitry at the front of the brain in older people who suffer from depression. Neuro-growth is developed by the Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab at the University of Utah based on the research of Dr. Sarah Shizuko Morimoto. Sarah is an associate professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences. His team received the grant in April and began clinical trials in August. Sarah said receiving the grant marked the “crowning” of her career.
Roger Altizer, director of digital medicine at the Center for Medical Innovation, says they do medical work that “just happens with software rather than pills.” Morimoto has spent more than a decade exploring how video games can reconstruct damaged circuitry in the frontal lobe that can block the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs. She said the recovery mechanism in the brain that helps people overcome depression can be eroded with aging. She compared brain circuits to a phone line: It doesn’t matter how much signal amplification occurs at either end of a phone call if the line is cut. Although antidepressants can help improve mood, the drug would be ineffective unless the cognitive infrastructure is repaired.
Morimoto said an initial clinical trial showed that between 60% and 70% of patients who had not responded to medications before said gambling provided some relief before she came to college. . Morimoto conducted another trial against a generally stimulating computer program and found that 60-70% of patients reported a 50% reduction in their symptoms of depression.