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Industry Pioneers Gather at the University of Southern California for the Second Annual Conference of the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (ESCoNS)
[February 05, 2013]

Industry Pioneers Gather at the University of Southern California for the Second Annual Conference of the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (ESCoNS)

LOS ANGELES --(Business Wire)--

Following on the extraordinary success of its inaugural symposium in San Francisco, The Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (ESCoNS: is proud to announce that ESCoNS 2, its next conference and meeting, will be held on March 15-17, 2013 at the University of Southern California. ESCoNS 2 is hosted in partnership with USC's world-renowned School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Division and its Game Innovation Lab, an experimental game design and research lab headed by Tracy Fullerton Associate Professor and Chair of the Interactive Media Division.

ESCoNS was created by a dedicated group of pioneering scientists and business leaders. The event was conceived by:

1. George Rose, Founder, The Rose Family Foundation; and

2. Sophia Vinogradov, MD, Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health, San Francisco VA Medical Center; Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

The following individuals joined them to form the organizing committee and the scientific advisory board for ESCoNS:

1. Adam Gazzaley, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco;

2. Daphne Bavelier, MD, Professor, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Center for Visual Science. Center for Language Studies and Director, Mind-Space Laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center;

3. Laird Malamed, Adjunct Professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division;

4. Mor Nahum, Ph.D, Senior Brain Plasticity Research Fellow, Brain Plasticity Inc.; and

5. Takeo Watanabe, MD: Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences at Brown University.

ESCoNS is fostering a new and exciting field of cognitive neurotherapeutics, an innovative approach to mapping and training the brain to improve cognitive function and capacity through interactive gameplay. By gathering the collective strengths of visionary scientists, researchers and video game pioneers, ESCoNS and its partners are making scientific and medical breakthroughs in interactive games and media.

The 2011 ESCoNS Meeting was a unique symposium that brought together academicians and scientists from around the world who study or are interested in learning how computerized training and engaging and compelling video games can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of serious disorders in various cognitive brain functions. It allowed participants to share their research findings and to interact directly with members of the entertainment software industry and government officials. ESCoNS 1 already spawned several exciting collaborations and follow-up meetings, including a summit meeting at the White House in August of 2012, and has further strengthened the potential of applying entertainment software methods as clinical interventions. The National Institute of Mental Health recently adopted Clinical Neuroscience and Entertainment Software Pilot Partnership Program to Develop Neuropsychiatric Interventions to provide funding for ventures that bring together entertainment software and mental health research and treatment.

"Our first ESCoNS meeting in 2011 was an unmitigated and well-deserved success that has put our efforts on the scientific map. We had over 220 attendees - scientists, clinicians, officials from the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense, leaders of the video game industry and the scientific media. We all had one purpose - to learn from each other and create a whole new and exciting field of 'cognitiv neurotherapeutics'- and we certainly succeeded", said Dr. Sophia Vinogradov of UCSF Medical Center. "It was an unbelievable shot in the arm for the whole field of study, nothing could compare", added Dr. Adam Gazzaley.

ESCoNS 2 will further build on these goals and create an extraordinary learning environment and opportunity to unite influencers in a variety of fields, with the common goal of advancing medicine and education through the use of games. This year's event will bring together startups, video game and technology companies, academia, clinicians and government agencies to get these pioneering ideas developed and into the hands and view of those that need it most. The stated purpose of ESCoNS 2 is to push the edge of collaboration between neuroscience and game industry by commencing a series of coordinated efforts designed to make cognitive neurotherapeutics a reality, enhancing the arsenal of tools in combating debilitating brain disorders affecting millions of people around the world.

"The ESCoNS conference was born to address complex issues by bridging the chasm between video game developers and neuroscientists. We are making tremendous strides as the key stakeholders work toward the advancement of video game technology for science, education and medicine," said George Rose, formerly an executive at Activision (News - Alert)-Blizzard, Inc., and the, founder of the Rose Family Foundation. "We are creating a new industry by mixing the latest research on the brain, supported by hard-science with technological advancements in interactive gaming."

In addition to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, ESCoNS has also benefited from the support of many other parties who selflessly devoted their time and energy to making this symposium a reality. The ESCoNS organizing committee is particularly grateful for the support of the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health, Lumos Labs, E-Line Media, The Brain Plasticity Institute, inova, The Staglin Family and One Mind for Research Foundation, Games for Health, Autism Speaks ®, and the law firms of Greenberg Traurig LLP and SoCal IP Law Group LLP. ESCoNS also recognizes tireless efforts of Tara Miller of The Miller Events and her staff, who organized both events, from top to bottom.

Advancements in research of a concept called neuroplasticity, pioneered by The Brain Plasticity Institute in San Francisco founded by Dr. Michael Merzenich, have proven that the brain is a complex muscle and with rigorous and medically supervised training, can be improved when it is introduced to various direct exercises. Moving forward on this research and using cutting-edge forms of technology, scientists are beginning to learn how illnesses, such as autism, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress or attention deficit disorder, result from dysfunction in key brain systems. It is the joint belief of scientists, medical professionals and entertainment software creators, proven by many years of hard research, that interactive games, including games specifically designed for such purpose, can offer brain-training exercises that will bring unimaginable relief to millions of people managing complex mental illnesses or suffering pain, and can progressively improve cognitive function within the realm of brain plasticity.

"I believe that technology provides the answers to many of the world's most pressing problems. As we continue to pour billions of dollars into a failing education system, for example, that seeks to advance teaching methodologies, it is time we flipped the model on its head," said Naveen Jain, CEO, inome and keynote speaker at this year's ESCoNS event. "Instead, let's focus on our 'learners.' The brain constantly evolves to its surroundings and rewires itself at any age. By triggering the brain using videogames and other interactive software solutions, we can improve its processing speed, as well as decision-making and spatial skills."

"We have a major scientific issue that involves one of the greatest frontiers in medicine benefited by products that have already become a household staple - videogames," George Rose added. "Interactive products have become the new language of younger generations, a way of expression. But games also provide us with a window into interactive cognitive therapies that can address pain, brain dysfunction and other illnesses with dramatic results."

ESCoNS 2 will feature four half-day sessions addressing a range of topics as vast as the brain itself, including computerized brain training, brain plasticity measurement, game design, motivated targeted behaviors, funding opportunities for academic-industry partnerships, and business development in the field of cognitive therapeutics, or brain therapy. Attendees will also be invited to numerous workshops on the principles of successful game design for therapeutic applications and a presentation of works dedicated to showcasing new computerized therapeutic tools. For more information on the program, speakers, or to register for the event, please go to:


Over the past 10 years, we have learned a great deal about the structure and function of the brain. We have also learned about how the brain can change when given various "training" opportunities (brain plasticity). At the same time, we have made great strides in understanding how human neuropsychiatric illnesses - such as autism, schizophrenia, ADD, and PTSD - result from dysfunction in key brain systems. At the first ESCoNS meeting in September 19-20, 2011, over 220 attendees - scientists, clinicians, officials from the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense, leaders of the videogame industry and the scientific media - got together to discuss what we know about brain plasticity. In 21 talks given by world-leading scientists, 2 panel discussions and over 50 posters, the consensus was that we can now push the edge of the envelope and combine the neuroscience of brain training with video game technology to target brain dysfunction in any number of human illnesses, creating a whole new and exciting field of "cognitive neurotherapeutics." The purpose of ESCoNS 2 is to push the edge of this envelope even further by bringing together researchers and interested members of the entertainment software industry to begin a series of coordinated efforts and make cognitive neurotherapeutics a reality.


The Rose Family Foundation is committed to the belief that video game technology will help us understand and solve some of society's most pressing problems in areas such as medicine and education. Interactive software has potential to improve treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, child autism, neurological disorders associated with memory and aging, vision problems, and fitness training to fight obesity. The Foundation works to promote the progress of such efforts by connecting individuals and organizations from various academic, business and governmental entities to help them exchange ideas and resources necessary for socially-beneficial innovation.

About USC School of Cinematic Arts

In 1929, USC became the first university in the country to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in film. The School's founding faculty included William C. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, Ernst Lubitsch, Mary Pickford, Irving Thalberg and Darryl Zanuck, among others. Since its founding, the School of Cinematic Arts has had a profound impact on the global entertainment industry and the academic study of film, television, animation, games and emerging media.

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