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BrainAware: Interactive digital psychoeducation for adolescents and young adults with substance use disorders

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 4R44GM130195-02
Agency Tracking Number: R44GM130195
Amount: $1,025,995.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 500
Solicitation Number: PAR18-402
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-03-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-08-31
Small Business Information
111 3RD AVE S STE 100
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2551
United States
DUNS: 165988937
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (612) 859-5406
Business Contact
Phone: (612) 720-4960
Research Institution

Treatment professionals struggle to get adolescents and young adults to engage and persist with treatment for
substance abuse disorders. It is particularly difficult to maintain interest or enthusiasm with two core elements
of evidence-based substance abuse treatment, psychoeducation and peer support. We propose to counter
young peopleandapos;s resistance to treatment by creating an interactive educational app that is engaging, provides
sound instruction, and facilitates peer interaction.
Andamio Games is partnering with the Perelman School of Medicineandapos;s Center for Studies of Addiction at
the University of Pennsylvania, a nationally recognized laboratory for research and development of new
treatments for substance use disorders. We will design, develop, and test a learning game called BrainAware
based on adapted content from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and supplemented with original
curriculum on medication-assisted-treatment (MAT), to teach the neurobiology of addiction to adolescents and
young adults in behavioral treatment. We will concurrently develop a dashboard companion app that will
provide counselors with unique capabilities to effectively lead group psychoeducation sessions.
With funding from a previous NIMH grant, Andamio has already tackled the problem of making
neuroscience more engaging and easier to learn by developing the mobile educational app iNeuron and testing
it with high school students. Our educational efficacy study of over 300 students in 20 classrooms
demonstrated that using iNeuron resulted in larger concept knowledge gains relative to standard instruction.
For this Fast-Track project we will build BrainAware on the foundation of iNeuron’s existing neural
simulator and instructional design, and use our in-house app development toolkit. A key feature developed for
iNeuron that will be adapted for BrainAware is collaborative play, where peers must together across devices to
solve problems. BrainAware’s counselor dashboard will be adapted from the one developed for iNeuron,
allowing counselors to monitor and respond to individual and group activity in real time.
We will design BrainAware in consultation with experts in the neurobiology of addiction, treatment
counselors, and a youth/young adult community advisory board, then test BrainAware in an educational
efficacy study with adolescents and young adults undergoing substance use disorder treatment. We will test
the hypothesis that using BrainAware will result in larger gains in concept knowledge and increased
engagement relative to learning with standard psychoeducation instructional methods.
Upon successful completion of the study, the BrainAware app and dashboard will be marketed to over
15,000 treatment facilities through our commercial partner Hazelden Publishing. Our vision is to ultimately
create a comprehensive, interactive digital curriculum for psychoeducation that can be utilized by adolescents
and young adults with substance use disorders to positively impact broader treatment outcomes.A particular challenge to the field of substance use disorder treatment is the engagement of young adults
(aged 18-25) and adolescents (aged 12-17), who resist treatment based on multiple factors specific to their
age group. Andamio Games, in partnership with the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of
Pennsylvania, proposes to develop and implement an interactive, collaborative digital learning app and
counselor dashboard app for use in adolescent and young adult substance abuse treatment to provide
education on the neurobiology of addiction. Our longer-term goal is to utilize our unique educational technology
platform to improve the delivery and effectiveness of a broad range of psychoeducational curriculum for this
challenging cohort.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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