Sarah Shizuko Morimoto’s Neurogrow is a gardening video game designed to increase and improve neural circuitry. For those with geriatric depression or mental decline, the game crucially targets the brain to better respond to anti-depressants. It does so through a series of repetitive memorization and timing exercises—like watering a specific color flower with a corresponding watering can—to activate the brain. According to Pam Stevens, a 79-year-old woman who was told her cognitive decline was untreatable after a stroke, the game not only improved her mood and helped her become more social, but also made her more alert. Morimoto expains, “When you want a certain part of the brain activated, you use something similar to problems in a game. When someone solves a problem, a certain part of the brain lights up. So we started there and gamified those tasks.” Read more about Neurogrow and how video games can open doors to breakthrough treatments at NPR.
Image courtesy of Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab, University of Utah