The gaming industry has long claimed that its products can have a positive effect on people, and now one group is putting that to the test.

Akili Interactive Labs wants to see how well its games work when it comes to treating autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The company has designed a platform for assessing and treating various conditions in a personalized way. Now, to validate its creation, Akili has partnered up with Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA), a nonprofit division of the Autism Speaks charity, to run controlled studies on the effectiveness of Akili’s platform.

Project: EVO, Akili’s cognitive platform, is an extension of technology that Dr. Adam Gazzaley of the University of California San Francisco developed and published a paper on for the journal Nature. Akili designed EVO specifically to help players learn to cope with extra streams of information. The company claims this has the potential to improve problem solving, working memory, and self-regulation.

“Our products combine the high engagement and high-resolution data of the tech industry with the strong scientific underpinning of the medical industry,” Akili cofounder and chief operating officer Eddie Martucci said. “We are excited to advance our products further into the clinic and into the market.”


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Scientifically establishing the efficacy of Akili is an important step for the company. This comes at a time when the brain-game industry has come under fire for backing up its claims that it can improve brain function with faulty or nonexistent science. By going directly to a group like DELSIA, Akili is looking to cement its credibility in the medical community.

“This partnership holds real promise for serving the needs of a subset of individuals on the [autism] spectrum,” claimed Robert Schultz, director of the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. “While individuals with autism-spectrum disorders have a wide variety of needs, difficulties with executive functioning are prominent and are known to be associated with difficulties with adaptive functioning and independence in adulthood.”


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