Biofeedback Video Game Helps Kids Control Anger

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Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital had the bright idea that, since kids with anger-control problems tend to resist psychotherapy but enjoy video games, the researchers should develop a game that sneakily helps kids practice emotion-control skills — and in the process perhaps reduces the need for medication.

The game, called RAGE Control (short for Regulate and Gain Emotional Control), employs a finger heart rate monitor; users with elevated heart rates actually lose the ability to shoot enemy spaceships. Researchers say the idea is to teach kids to better control their emotional responses — and specifically to reduce outbursts of anger or frustration — by reaching certain targets.

“The connections between the brain’s executive control centers and emotional centers are weak in people with severe anger problems,” Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, chief of psychopharmacology at Boston Children’s Hospital and senior investigator on the study, said in a news release. “To succeed at RAGE Control, players have to learn to use these centers at the same time to score points.”

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