Video games may do the aging brain good

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Older adults might want to take an interest in their grandchildren’s’ video games, if early research on the brain benefits of gaming is correct.

In a study of 40 adults in their 60s and 70s, researchers found that those who learned to play a strategy-heavy video game improved their scores on a number of tests of cognitive function.

Men and women who trained in the game for about a month showed gains in tests of memory, reasoning and the ability to “multi-task.”

The findings suggest that video games that keep players “on their toes” might help older adults keep their brains sharp, the researchers report in the journal Psychology and Aging.

This is the first published study to suggest as much, so it’s important not to overstate the findings, said senior researcher Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Still, he told Reuters Health, the results are “very promising,” as they suggest that strategy-based video games can enhance reasoning, memory and other cognitive abilities that often decline with age.

The study included 40 older adults who were randomly assigned to either the video-game group or a comparison group that received no training in the game. Over 1 month, the gamer group spent about 23 hours training in “Rise of Nations,” an off-the-shelf video game where players seek world domination.

Ruling the world, the game group learned, requires a complex set of tasks, including military strategy, building cities, managing economies and feeding people.

Study participants who trained in the game ended up improving their scores in several areas of a battery of cognitive tests, Kramer and his colleagues found.

More research is needed to confirm and extend the findings, Kramer said. It’s not clear, he noted, if other strategic games would have the same benefits, or if the effects seen in this study persist over time.

Still, the findings are in line with research suggesting that older adults can improve their cognitive health by staying both physically active and mentally active through activities such as reading, writing or other hobbies.

“Playing video games with their grandkids would also be a great idea,”

Kramer noted, “because we know that social interactions — along with physical exercise and intellectual challenge — also enhance the cognitive abilities of older adults.”

SOURCE: Psychology and Aging, December 2008.

Source

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related Posts:


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adolescents who play violent video games may become increasingly aggressive over time, a new study of Japanese and U.S. teens suggests. Researchers found that among three groups of 9- to 18-year-olds followed over several months, those who regularly played violent video games were more likely to get into more and more

Full Post: Violent video games tied to teen aggression
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Regular aerobic exercise can not only stave off the decline in brain function that often comes with age, it can also help turn back the clock on brain aging, two experts in the field report, based on a critical review of published studies. Age-related deterioration in the all-important white and gray

Full Post: Aerobic activity may reverse mental decline
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monkeys regained the use of paralyzed wrist muscles with a computer-aided device that uses brain signals to direct movement, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The finding may lead to treatments for people paralyzed with spinal cord or other injuries, they said. “This was an initial demonstration that this type of technology is

Full Post: Device helps monkeys move paralyzed wrists
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research shows that among the mental abilities that are affected by type 2 diabetes, the speed at which the brain processes information appears to be the most severely impaired, particularly in patients with undiagnosed disease. Findings from several studies have linked type 2 diabetes with cognitive dysfunction. However, it was

Full Post: Type 2 diabetes may slow mental processing speed
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LONDON (Reuters) - Mentally demanding jobs and more education appear to protect people from the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Italian researchers said on Monday. The findings bolster the previous research about Alzheimer’s and other forms of brain impairment, said Valentina Garibotto of the San Raffaele University and Scientific Institute and the National Institute of

Full Post: Education protects against Alzheimer’s impact

Site Navigation

Most Read

Search