The best new way to treat ADHD symptoms? Play a video game.

Hi. My name is Thom, and I have ADHD.

And not in the way that people mean when they say, "I have ADHD!" because we live in a world of flashy glass pocket-computers, instant gratification, and a constant bombardment of information overload.

I mean that I am diagnosed with ADHD. My brain functions differently than most people's, and I employ a combination of medication and rigorous behavioral discipline to help me thrive in a world that runs counter to my way of thinking.


There are lots of different theories about the causes of ADHD, but one thing is certain: I don't really care that much for video games.

But scientists in Durham, North Carolina, might just change my mind. They've found a way to use video games to treat the symptoms of ADHD.

NEURO+ was created by Jake Stauch, a cognitive neuroscience student and researcher at Duke University, in collaboration with the nearby Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill.

The idea for an ADHD video came came to Stauch while he was working on a project that used electroencephalogram (EEG) readings to measure people's subconscious responses to television advertisements. As he explained in an interview with Houston's ABC13 News, he started to wonder if the technology could be used to help kids with attention problems.

GIFset via ABC13 Eyewitness News.

Here's what one NEURO+ gamer had to say about his experience using the brain-controlled video game:


GIFset via Jake Stauch.

You know what's cooler than video games? Using your telekinetic ADHD superpowers to control dragons.

Contrary to popular belief, there is absolutely no evidence for a correlation between video games and ADHD (or sugary drinks, for that matter). But ADHDers do have much higher thresholds for keeping our attention — one of our little quirks is that our brains don't reward us with the same chemical highs as neurotypical people, which is part of why mundane tasks get away from us so easily.

That being said, the kinetic energy of video games does tend to itch that little pleasure center in the brain. The aim of NEURO+ is to help us use that to our advantage.

A screenshot from "Axon," one of the NEURO+ games, via ABC13 Eyewitness News. #TelekineticADHDdragons

To maximize that brain control, the NEURO+ system relies on a kind of behavioral therapy called Neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback helps you work together with your brain to train yourself in better habits. The game itself essentially rewards you for focusing and sitting still, with the eventual goal of conditioning your mind to associate the excitement of telekinetically controlling a dragon with, say, combing through a spreadsheet at work (which, if you're anything like me, is pretty much the worst thing ever).

While neurofeedback has been clinically classified as a "Level 1 Best Support" intervention for ADHD, it's still not an FDA-approved treatment for the condition. It certainly helps some people, particularly when used in conjunction with therapy and medication. But don't expect to play some NEURO+ video games and then wake up one day completely ADHD-free. That's not how it works (nor should it).

I don't know. I just found this in a quick search and really wanted a picture here. Photo by Amen Clinic via Flickr.

Life with ADHD isn't all just fun and games and "ooh, look, shiny objects." It's a struggle and a superpower all at once.

Like many neurological or behavioral conditions, ADHD is egregiously misunderstood. Most of the time when I see ADHD in the news, it's someone decrying the overdiagnosis of the condition, particularly among children. And while this might be a valid complaint, it also sends a message that ADHD isn't real, that "boys will boys," or that the condition is somehow the fault of the child or the parent.

Here's the thing: ADHD is precisely what enables me to do all the things I do. Sure, it could take me one full work day to comprehend a single spreadsheet in Excel. But I also taught myself how to play Irish DADGAD-style guitar in a single weekend. I redid our entire guest room in one afternoon this summer while also neglecting to take out the trash for a week and a half. I had an easier time reading "Infinite Jest" than I do with any urgent one-page letter from my health care provider. Even with the medicine and behavioral systems that I have in place, I still struggle every single day to keep my head on straight.

But you know what? I wouldn't change it for the world.

And that's exactly what I find so refreshing about NEURO+.

It doesn't pretend to be a catchall cure for a brain functionality that doesn't need curing (but could use a little help sometimes). It's just one possible tool to help people cope with ADHD, while still being the flying telekinetic dragons that we all were born to be.

NEURO+ is available for a subscription of $100 a month, which includes the headset and games. They recommend playing about three times a week (although the game only allows you to play for one hour every 10 hours), and they suggest that you'll start seeing improvements in attentive behaviors after about a month.

(Also, just to prove a point about attention: If you read this far, please include a "!" at the end of your comment. Thanks!)

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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