3-D Video Games Could Boost Memory

All the hours spent playing super-realistic 3-D video games may not be a waste of time, after all.  In fact, they may one of be the best things you’ll do for your brain all day.

A new study, published in _The Journal of Neuroscience, _finds that playing 3-D video games may help improve memory -- possibly opening the door to a new way to maintain cognitive functioning as we get older.

We're all familiar with the bad reputation of obsessive game-playing--that it leads to too much sedentary behavior and that the more violent games can cause more aggressive behavior and reduced self-control.

But the tide may be turning. Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study that found Tetris could reduce cravings, while other research suggested story-based video games could help people with autism.

Now, in the new study, researchers from the University of California-Irvine (UCI) suggest the benefits of video games could reach even further, possibly helping people with dementia or other conditions associated with memory loss.

College students were asked to play one of two video games for 30 minutes daily for two weeks -- either the 2-D game "Angry Birds" or the 3-D game "Super Mario 3-D World." They also took memory tests both before and after the two-week gaming period, which involved them viewing images of specific everyday objects. The students were then shown images of the same objects, new objects and objects that differed slightly from the original images and were asked to categorize each one.

The tests engaged the hippocampus -- the brain region associated with memory and learning. The ability to perform well on such tests reduces as we age.

The results were good news for 3-D gamers. Compared with the students who played the 2-D game over the two-week period, those who played the 3-D game improved their memory performance by around 12 percent.

That’s an important number, because between the ages of 45 to 70, our memory performance generally drops by about 12 percent.

Don't miss this week's Slice of History: 1st Triple Transplant.

Sourced from: Medical News Today, How playing 3-D video games could help boost memory