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Study: Virtual Reality Game Detects ADHD Symptoms in Children

January 19, 2023Virtual reality (VR) games may be used to accurately and objectively diagnose ADHD symptoms in children, according to a team of Finland-based researchers. Their newly developed VR game, Executive Performance in Everyday LIving (EPELI), performed better than standard behavioral tests in distinguishing children with ADHD from those without ADHD in a small study of 76 subjects.

According to the study, “EPELI showed predictive validity as the ADHD group exhibited higher percentage of irrelevant actions reflecting lower attentional-executive efficacy and more controller movements and total game actions, both indicative of hyperactivity-impulsivity.”1Unlike the questionnaires, interviews, and clinical observations commonly used to assess ADHD, EPELI simulates tasks that occur in everyday life. Players are asked to remember to engage in simple tasks like brushing their teeth or eating a banana despite distractions in the environment.“The game measures everything: how much the child clicks on the controls and how efficiently they perform the tasks,” says Topi Siro, the developer of EPELI.

“Efficiency correlates with everyday functioning, where children with ADHD often have challenges.2EPELI presents 13 task scenarios to players over 25 to 35 minutes. Each scenario includes one general topic (e.g.

morning routines) and 4 to 6 subtasks (e.g. wash hands).

Participants engage in an instruction phase and execution phase for each scenario. The execution phase must be completed within 90 seconds.A previous study of EPELI successfully distinguished children with ADHD from a neurotypical control group.1  That research was recently replicated in a study published by Nature, but with an added behavioral marker: visual

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