App to Improve Attention May Help People With Depression

Novel approach targets related issues instead of the symptoms of depression
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2017 7:05 PM CST
App to Improve Attention May Help People With Depression
Multiple clinical trials are investigating the use of Project: EVO to treat cognitive disorders, from Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury to pediatric attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.   (Scott Areman)

Video games have become so pervasive that clinicians have moved from simply studying how they affect our bodies and brains to designing them with specific outcomes in mind. Such is the case with an app called Project: Evo, an app-based game that was designed ostensibly to improve attention. Science Daily reports that it's currently the subject of multiple studies on anything from Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury to ADHD in children, but the Economic Times reports that researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle may have hit on an unintended side benefit: treating depression.

Researchers report in the journal Depression and Anxiety that people suffering from late-life depression (age 60 and up) tend to have difficulty concentrating and focusing their attention on personal goals. Because the app is designed to improve focus, researchers hypothesized that depression symptoms might improve if these underlying cognitive issues were treated. The early results, they say, "are promising," though the Bit Bag notes that 58% of participants in the study didn't feel compelled to use the app without a "human interface," so the screen-based treatment will likely be effective only under clinical supervision. (Here's how a person's Instagram posts can reveal depression.)

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