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September 2014: Socio-Emotional Competency Through Gaming

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 2014: Socio-Emotional Competency Through Gaming

How well a person interacts with others is strongly influenced by his or her socio-emotional competencies, such as an ability to recognize facial expressions of emotion. Such competencies vary significantly between individuals and can be severely impaired by disorders, such as autism, dementia, anorexia, and schizophrenia, as well as by language disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In these cases, individuals often suffer from severe socio-emotional dysfunction that hinders their success in everyday social interactions.

Today, few intervention programs offer targeted diagnostic and training tools for improving socio-emotional competencies. Furthermore, many people often experience long waiting periods before receiving treatment. At the same time, individuals are also proactively seeking self-empowerment in their treatment regimens.

AFFECTIVE SIGNALS (AFS), a research-based spin-off from the Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin), is developing an evidence-based mental health care service, which enables patients and therapists to monitor and train socio-emotional competencies using digital tools. The start-up is developing a web service that will include version 2.0 of the serious game training SCOTT (SOCIAL COGNITION TRAINING TOOL), which aims to improve a user's perception and understanding of emotions. Through a variety of short films of social interactions, users watch actors display 40 different emotional states ranging from envy to enthusiasm to interpret facial expressions, prosody, voices, language, and context.

The start-up's team of multidisciplinary scientists and experts in the IT, game design, health care, and business fields is combining its research findings from psychology, neuroscience, and affective computing to build evidence-based, gamefied tools for patients, therapists, and anyone else interested in improving their socio-emotional competencies. AFFECTIVE SIGNALS is working together with therapists, researchers, caretakers, and patients to integrate digital health services into conventional psychiatric and neurological therapies as well as to improve therapeutic outcomes, care, and costs. AFS is actively seeking health care innovators who are interested in integrating state-of-the-art digital tools into their caregiving.

AFFECTIVE SIGNALS is funded, in part, by EXIST - a support program for university-based start-ups. EXIST is sponsored by Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi). AFS' website will launch next month.

For more details, please contact Nikos Green, Ph.D. at

Source & Image: © Dr. Nikos Green, AFFECTIVE SIGNALS, c/o Freie Universität Berlin, Affective Neuroscience & Psychology of Emotion