Video games could help older brains act younger
Looks like those video games aren’t a brain drain after all. According to a new study published in the journal Nature, video games may improve multitasking and cognitive abilities in older adults. EEG scans of participants showed increased measurements in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the area which controls problem solving and complex thought.
Using a new game called NeuroRacer, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, tested 174 adults between the ages of 20 to 79 years old. NeuroRacer is a 3-D computer driving game requiring players to avoid a series of distractions while driving. The game was played by each participant for one hour three times a week for one month. The game was divided into two tasks. The first, “sign only,” had players respond quickly to certain signs on the screen. The second, “sign and drive,” had players perform this task while also driving a simulated car down a windy road using a joystick.
The game showed that humans’ multitasking abilities decline each decade. However, in 16 adults ages 60 to 85, the results showed their multitasking abilities increased and maintained at this level for the next six months. Some of these improvements included remembering things more easily and being able to hold attention in boring environments. The EEG scans also showed the adults’ pre-frontal cortex began to resemble their younger counterparts more closely.
While NeuroRacer is a game specifically designed for age-related cognitive issues, researchers are hoping to develop NeuroRacer into a mobile game to potentially benefit all age populations with neurological disorders. However, more research is first needed to determine if the game is beneficial for all ages.