Dr. Brunner received this research update summary from a researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital by the name of Peter Ducharme, MSW. Mr. Ducharme used Dr. Brunner’s anger measure called the STAXI-2 C/A in this study.
Mr. Ducharme should be credited with the following text and information. Thank you Ms. Ducharme for sending in the following update:
A video game that’s fun, plus teaches kids biofeedback to lessen anger? Yes, please!
A pilot study led by Peter Ducharme, MSW, at Boston Children’s Hospital found a simple video game called “RAGE Control” can teach children to control their anger, according to a public release on Oct. 24 by EurekAlert.
Professionals agree that children with anger control issues are more interested in playing video games than undergoing anger management treatments. With this insight, Jason Kahn, PhD, and Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, MD, developed “RAGE Control,” which is a fast-paced video game where players shoot at enemy spaceships while avoiding the friendly ones. The incentive is they have to stay calm to be able to shoot at the enemy spaceships.
While playing, a finger monitor tracks their heart rate which is displayed on the computer screen. If the heart rate rises above a certain point, the players lose their ability to shoot at the enemy. The children can see the heart rate on the screen, alerting them when they become ‘emotional.’ This emotional awareness encourages them to calm themselves down so they can improve their game play.
The game targets a connection inside the brain that is considered responsible for anger. This connection, between the brain’s executive control and the emotional center, seems weaker in people with severe anger issues. This game forces players to strengthen the connection to score points in the game.
The study involved two groups of inpatient children at the hospital who were between the ages of 9 and 17 and exhibited high levels of anger. Both groups received treatments for anger (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy, presentation of relaxation techniques and social skills training) for five consecutive business days, but only the first group (gamers) was allowed to play the game as part of the psychotherapy treatment.
After the five game sessions, it was noted the gamers did significantly better at keeping their heart rate down and had a decrease in “suppressed, internalized anger” while the second group showed no significant change. Additionally, Ducharme reported the gamers had a clinically significant decrease in the anger scores on the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory-Child and Adolescent (STAXI-CA).
The researchers believe the emotional self-control the kids learn with this game can be applied in (real) life situations and possibly reduce the need for medications.