Computer games can help people with schizophrenia to control brain activity

Patients with Schizophrenia

Patients with Schizophrenia

In a small study, schizophrenia patients were able to land a rocket in a virtual game when it was linked to the region of the brain sensitive to speech and human voices, the BBC reports.

With the help of MRI scanner and a computer game, patients suffering from schizophrenia can now practice limiting their verbal hallucinations, as scientists believe they're in progress with the treatment.

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.

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

Neural action was spoken to by a computerized space rocket, and patients were told to arrive the rocket by conveying it practical.

No explicit instructions were given to patients about how to move the rocket, instead patients were asked to develop their own mental strategies to move it. The results were encouraging, with patients able to reduce neural activity in the speech sensitive region of the brain after just four visits.

Researchers said it is the first time neurofeedback techniques have been investigated for schizophrenia and verbal hallucinations.

"The patients know when the voices are going to begin - they can feel it, so we need them to instantly put this guide into impact to decrease them, or stop the voices totally".

"What this means is that by using this technique, patients learnt to control brain activity in the area of the brain that responds to voices - an area we know is hyperactive in people whom experience auditory verbal hallucinations".

Dr Orlov added: "Although the study sample size is small and we lacked a control group, these results are promising".

Professor Paul Allen, from the University of Roehampton, added: 'The results of this pilot are astonishing as nearly everyone in the patient group was able to control the space rocket, successfully bringing the rocket in the game back down to the ground. "We are now planning to conduct a randomized controlled study to test this technique in a larger sample".

"These are still early days in our exploration, in any case, patients who partook in the pilot study have disclosed to us that the preparation has helped them to quiet their outer voices down, with the goal that they could disguise them more".