Blaise Holden '13 Earns Fulbright Scholarship

Pacific University psychology major Blaise Holden '13 has received a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2013-14 academic year and will travel to Belgium to collaborate on potential therapy for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) in young people.

He will travel to Belgium and work with a group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels on the development of a video game designed to alleviate the effects of ADHD.

Holden's proposed game, "RAM Page: Realdream Weaver," is based on the reciprocating relationship between games and players, he said.

The goal of the game is to engage players in practicing cognition, specifically targeting attentional control, Holden wrote in his Fulbright proposal.

Additionally, the game's play by users would contribute to a self-organizing "global brain" archive system known as the Principia Cybernetica Project.

The group Holden will work with is led by Francis Heylighen, a cyberneticist and scholar of the emergence and evolution of intelligent organization.

Heylighen is a proponent of the power of group self-organization, in which the act of collection coordinates the power in resources, ideas or game time donated by constituents to produce actions otherwise unachievable.

Holden's project "aims to harness the global power of gaming and strategy to achieve new goals."

Holden will spend 10 months in Belgium and work with the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition research group.

Following preliminary research, he will begin designing the multi-game program with a focus on the "Formation" module. He will work with schools to recruit local children and adolescents to participate in beta testing of the game.

Next, Holden will work to complete the game's "Entraining" module, designed to teach and allow players to practice crucial neurocognitive skills, such as "directed attention" and pattern matching.

Following that stage, Holden will begin developing the "Soul Combat" module, a turn-based card strategy game designed to create motivational pressure among players.

Upon completion of the modules, Holden will continuously test and update them and ultimately unify the components into a single project.

He will spend a month promoting and presenting the game at colleges and universities throughout Belgium, and coordinate with contacts at local primary and secondary schools, libraries and museums.

He will then evaluate the project during the final month of his trip.

For his capstone project at Pacific University, Holden researched conventional and alternative treatments for ADHD to try and identify an optimal approach for improving attentional control. He has also been a fellow within the university's Berglund Center for Internet Studies, in which he worked on video game technical design and researched "Games With A Purpose" (GWAP) development.

Holden has been an active presence at Pacific, having served as president of the College of Arts & Sciences Student Senate, treasurer of the Psi Chi Psychology Club and participating on the Pacific University Speech Team.

A senior from Steamboat Springs, Colo., Holden will be among approximately 285 other baccalaureate degree candidates who will graduate on Saturday, May 18.

Thursday, May 16, 2013