Playing Video Games May Increase Cognitive Control in Older Adults

As we age our working memory capacity tends to decline; our ability to retain, reason, and react to new information, especially when that information comes from multiple sources, is reduced. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, researchers are conducting more studies using video games to explore the way our brain processes information. One such study out of the University of California at San Francisco, has found that video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults. The video game, NeuroRacer, was specially designed by scientists to engage attention and multitasking skills. The study found that after 12 hours of game-play spread over a month, 60 to 85 year old participants showed improvements in their working memory and ability to sustain attention for up to six months. Brain scans showed their prefrontal cortex, the brain region associated with governing cognitive processes, began to exhibit activity on par with younger adults.

In a Citizen’s Voice article, Vithal D. Dhaduk, M.D., chief neurologist at Geisinger Community Medical Center explains that video games can successfully improve cognitive functions if they stimulate brain cells and promote multitasking. He continues to say that older adults must use it or lose it, “cognitive functioning will slowly deteriorate if they don’t stimulate the brain cells.” It seems that video games may soon be a valid choice on our list of brain teasers.

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