NASA Features Play Attention

NASA Features Play Attention
NASA Spinoff magazine reveals Play Attention’s space connectionPlay Attention was inspired by research done at NASA. Dr. Alan Pope’s experiments on astronaut attention provided the basis for Play Attention which enhanced NASA’s technology.

Play Attention’s founder, Peter Freer, made the technology easy to use for any family or professional. Play Attention is now the global leader in assistive technology for ADHD.

Read for full article here on page 86: http://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2013/pdf/Spinoff2013.pdf

Technology Showing Promise in Treating Attention and Behavioral Problems in Children & Adults

An article from the October 6, 2005 issue of  MONiTOR TODAY!, Ottawa’s Technology Information portal:

Technology Showing Promise in Treating Attention and Behavioral Problems in Children and Adults.

Asheville, North Carolina – It’s a patented technology that is similar to that used by NASA astronauts and U.S. Air Force pilots to stay attentive in the cockpit. An innovative product called the Play Attention Learning System is using similar space-age technology that can now be used on home/school computers to help minimize attention, concentration and focus challenges in children and adults. Through the use of new computer technology, unique one-on-one support and a dynamic training program, Play Attention’s innovative learning system actually trains the brain to pay attention and focus better.

“NASA has proven that attention can be improved through feedback training. Play Attention is actually an enhancement to their technology which is successfully impacting the lives of children and adults worldwide,” says Peter Freer, Play Attention Founder and CEO. The results have been powerful throughout the United States, Europe, China, Canada, Singapore, Puerto Rico, South America, Taiwan, and Australia.

What is Play Attention? The Play Attention Learning System consists of a unique computer software program, a sensor-lined helmet similar to one used for bicycling and an interface unit that connects the helmet sensors to the computer. These sensors monitor the user’s attentive state and cognitive process while he/she interacts with the characters on the computer screen. Users complete a series of video game-like exercises that are controlled, not by joysticks or controllers, but by the brain alone. Through a process called Edufeedback, Play Attention users can see and hear real-time feedback of how they’re progressing in focusing, finishing tasks, increasing memory, and filtering out distractions.

Within a short time of using Play Attention, behavior can be modified to reduce or eliminate disruptive calling out, fidgeting, and impulsivity, all while improving time-on-task, focus, comprehension and more. The system helps reduce the effects of distraction at! home, school and the workplace, bringing life into focus. Play Attention encourages practice of key cognitive and attention skills that, in a relatively short amount of time, retrains the brain how to think more clearly, more attentively and with more focus.

The Play Attention Learning System is much more than computers and technology. In addition to the hardware & software a user receives personalized one-on-one support, motivation and guidance with Play Attention staff members, typically holding a master’s degree or higher. A mentor program for children and adults to insure goals are set and being reached. And free access to www.playattention.net, a support site loaded with newsletters, information about the rewards program, latest software downloads, coaching resources, interactive advice from the Play Attention staff.

The entire Play Attention Learning System sells for $1,795, which includes all equipment, materials and training. Complete information is available online: support.playattention.net or by calling (800) 788-6786 for a FREE demonstration CD.

Video Games and Brain Development

Recently, Scott Bauer of the Associated Press (July 27, 2005) released an article entitled: Blind Teen Amazes With Video-Game Skills.

In it, Bauer writes of super video game whiz, Brice Mellen. Brice is super proficient in games such as Mortal Kombat and others. The only difference between Brice and his peers is that Brice is blind. The following excerpt is from the article and is an exceptional example of neuroplasticity or Brice’s ability (his brain’s ability) to compensate for his loss of sight.

And as he easily dispatched foes who took him on recently at a Lincoln gaming center, the affable and smiling Mellen remained humble.

“I can’t say that I’m a superpro,” he said, working the controller like an extension of his body. “I can be beat.”

Those bold enough to challenge him weren’t so lucky. One by one, while playing “Soul Caliber 2,” their video characters were decapitated, eviscerated and gutted without mercy by Mellen’s on-screen alter ego.

“I’m getting bored,” Mellen said in jest as he won game after game.

Blind since birth when his optic nerve didn’t connect because of Leber’s disease, Mellen honed his video game skills over the years through patient and not-so-patient playing, memorizing key joystick operations and moves in certain games, asking lots of questions and paying particular attention to audio cues. He worked his way up from games such as “Space Invaders” and “Asteroid,” onto the modern combat games.

“I guess I don’t know how I do it, really,” Mellen said, as he continued playing while facing away from the screen. “It’s beyond me.”

Mellen knows this much: He started playing at home when he was about 7.”

Brice has learned how to control play through adaptation. He can play with his back to the screen and use finely tuned listening skills to calculate distance and position. Applying this with exquisitely tuned kinesthetic skills on the joystick, and he has a powerful combination that few can beat.

His mastery is a mystery; however, it is a true example of the human brain’s ability to adapt when given the correct stimulation and learning environment. It remains unfortunate, at the time of this blog, that science has yet to catch up or tap into the immense innate capacity of the human brain.

When I developed Play Attention, I was acutely aware that cognitive training/development through video game usage was an incredibly motivating discipline. The intrinsic interest in computer video gaming provides a tremendous teaching environment.

Off-the-shelf commercial video games provide little cognitive improvement, if any according to recent research. They do teach the user to identify screen objects quickly and accurately. They may quite likely decrease one’s ability to control sustained attention, impulsivity, and aggression as well.

Thus, it is imperative to provide specific goals for game play. Play Attention teaches and increases specific cognitive skills typically deficit in persons with attention problems. I systematically structure the teaching/learning process to produce cognitive and behavioral changes. This, of course, does not happen in off-the-shelf games where violence is the objective. It is important to remember that our brains are ALWAYS affected by what we input into them.

Are We a Nation of ‘Psuedo-ADD’ Sufferers?

Are We a Nation of ‘Psuedo-ADD’ Sufferers?

Society’s Breakneck Pace Encourages Lack of Focus, Concentration, Some Say

Americans often have hundreds of television channels to choose from, and high-speed Internet access, e-mail and personal digital assistants keeping them connected – but if you are so “connected” that you’re beginning to feel rather disconnected, you may not be alone, some mental health experts say.

We are becoming a nation of attention deficit disorder sufferers, says Dr. John Ratey, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Delivered from Distraction.”

“We value not spending much time thinking about one thing,” Ratey says. “These are hallmark symptoms of people with what we call pseudo-ADD.”

A Nation of Multi-Taskers

Hundreds of thousands of children and adolescents have received a clinical ADD diagnosis for an inability to focus and concentrate in school. But what about the non-medical problem of “cultural” ADD?

Being able to multi-task effectively is a prized quality in our society. Take Eileen O’Connor, a former ABC News producer and now a wife, mother of five, law student and non-profit executive. She feels like being able to multi-task is the only way to cram all she needs to do into her hectic days.

“I would go to class, listen to the lecture and on one [computer] screen be taking notes,” O’Connor says. “And on another screen, I was on my e-mail, actually e-mailing [my kids] or people in the office.”

But Ratey argues that multi-tasking is not as efficient as we might think.

“The brain is not riveted, it’s not focused,” he says. “You’re seeing a lot more noise in the brain. You’re using more of your brain to try and pay attention.”

One recent study showed that workers don’t spend more than three minutes on any given task, and they’re usually interrupted every two minutes.

Other research said it takes a person 50 percent longer to complete two tasks done simultaneously than if they were done separately.

In other words, asking your brain to keep hitting pause and play doesn’t save time.

Kids in Overdrive

Even busy, supercharged moms like O’Connor worry about kids growing up in overdrive, trying to do a million things at once – even homework.

Jim Steyer is the chief executive officer and founder of Common Sense Media, a non-profit group that encourages family-friendly entertainment. He says Americans are raising a generation of media-saturated kids.

In fact, the latest figures show kids spend 8½ hours a day using different kinds of media – from television to computers to video games.

“They’re spending too many hours in front of the screen – either a TV screen or a computer screen – and it does contribute in some ways to attention deficit disorder,” Steyer said.

Video Game Helps Concentration

Some parents are trying to get their kids to refocus by using a video game.

Former teacher Peter Freer invented a concentration game called “Play Attention,” which borrows from technology and exercises developed by NASA to sharpen pilots’ focus.

To play the game, a person will put on a helmet with sensors attached to it. The goal is to use your powers of concentration to make a virtual alien rise to the top of the screen. If you get distracted, the alien will fall down the screen.

Freer says that after logging 40 to 60 hours playing the game over several weeks, children and adults showed permanent improvement in their attention spans.

“The more [you] do this, the better you’ll be able to do it at will,” Freer says.

But do you really need a video game to improve concentration? O’Connor and her family are determined to slow down a bit and enjoy the simpler things.

“A typical day is nuts,” O’Connor said. “But then there are times when we say, ‘Whoa, we just gotta stop here.’ We do stop with a family dinner, and I think that sort of brings us back to reality.”

Copyright © 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures

Using NASA Technology to Increase Attention and Cognitive Function

Play Attention CEO to Speak at NASA Benefits of Space Exploration Brought to Earth

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina April 13, 2005

WCU graduate, Peter Freer, Founder and CEO of Unique Logic and Technology, Inc. will speak at the National Space Society 2005 International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC. His presentation is entitled, “From Outer Space to Inner Space: Using NASA Technology to Increase Attention and Cognitive Function.”

Freer holds a Master’s degree in education from Western Carolina University. He is a former educator in both Jackson County Schools and Asheville City Schools in NC. During his tenure as a teacher, Freer encountered an increasing number of AD/HD students. Combining NASA research and his background in educational computer programming, he developed Play Attention®, the nations leading educational attention training system used in schools, homes, and professional offices.

NASA currently uses feedback technology to increase astronaut and pilot attention during flight simulator training. Freer augmented this technology to accommodate educational needs and received four patents for his pioneering efforts. Freer adapted sophisticated instrumentation to fit the personal computer and then incorporated a sensor lined space-age helmet to process brain output and translate it onto a computer screen. This new learning system allows control of game action via the powers of concentration alone – no keyboard, no mouse, no joystick! Users practice paying attention by making video games respond to their brainpower at home or under the guidance of a teacher at school.

 Just as NASA astronauts and pilots train to increase attention, Play Attention literally teaches the user to increase concentration, complete tasks, visual tracking, short-term memory, and to filer out distractions – all the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom.    The learner directly observes his mind’s ability to command the computer screen in real-time.

 “Play Attention,” says Freer, “is popular with students because of its entertaining game format.  It keeps the student engrossed while he or she practices reaching new levels of concentration.”  The inventor adds, “The system is success based and includes behavioral shaping techniques.”

 He further notes studies demonstrate that children trained on Play Attention experience a greater sense of self-esteem, enhanced social interactions, and improved grades as a result of their own newly developed abilities.

 Freer says that, “Both NASA and Play Attention have proven that feedback-based learning empowers individuals to deal with their personal challenges by learning how to use their own resources. This produces a sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and success. We owe NASA a great debt.”

 The National Space Society 2005 International Space Development Conference is scheduled for May 19 – 22 at the Sheraton National Hotel Arlington, Washington, DC.  The conference theme, “Your Ticket to Space” refers to the new opportunities for citizens to participate in space exploration and realize the benefits on earth.