Electrophysiological Brain Changes Associated With Cognitive Improvement in a Pediatric Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Digital Artificial Intelligence-Driven Intervention: Randomized Controlled Trial

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Nov 26;23(11):e25466. doi: 10.2196/25466.


Background: Cognitive stimulation therapy appears to show promising results in the rehabilitation of impaired cognitive processes in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Objective: Encouraged by this evidence and the ever-increasing use of technology and artificial intelligence for therapeutic purposes, we examined whether cognitive stimulation therapy implemented on a mobile device and controlled by an artificial intelligence engine can be effective in the neurocognitive rehabilitation of these patients.

Methods: In this randomized study, 29 child participants (25 males) underwent training with a smart, digital, cognitive stimulation program (KAD_SCL_01) or with 3 commercial video games for 12 weeks, 3 days a week, 15 minutes a day. Participants completed a neuropsychological assessment and a preintervention and postintervention magnetoencephalography study in a resting state with their eyes closed. In addition, information on clinical symptoms was collected from the child´s legal guardians.

Results: In line with our main hypothesis, we found evidence that smart, digital, cognitive treatment results in improvements in inhibitory control performance. Improvements were also found in visuospatial working memory performance and in the cognitive flexibility, working memory, and behavior and general executive functioning behavioral clinical indexes in this group of participants. Finally, the improvements found in inhibitory control were related to increases in alpha-band power in all participants in the posterior regions, including 2 default mode network regions of the interest: the bilateral precuneus and the bilateral posterior cingulate cortex. However, only the participants who underwent cognitive stimulation intervention (KAD_SCL_01) showed a significant increase in this relationship.

Conclusions: The results seem to indicate that smart, digital treatment can be effective in the inhibitory control and visuospatial working memory rehabilitation in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Furthermore, the relation of the inhibitory control with alpha-band power changes could mean that these changes are a product of plasticity mechanisms or changes in the neuromodulatory dynamics.

Trial registration: ISRCTN Registry ISRCTN71041318; https://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN71041318.

Keywords: ADHD; AI; Conners continuous performance test; KAD_SCL_01; artificial intelligence; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; children; cognitive impairment; cognitive stimulation; magnetoencephalography; pediatrics; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / therapy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Male