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Recent study shows that a video game boosts mental skills in older people

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Posted by: Tate Steinlage

Video games made national headlines Wednesday, but not as a result of another argument between them and a possible link to real-life violence, surprisingly. Rather, doctors and professors were praising video games thanks in part to a preliminary study that’s suggesting that one video game may help older people boost their mental skills like multitasking.

In the study, published Wednesday by the journal “Nature,” healthy volunteers ages 60 to 85 showed a significant boost to their ability to retain information, stay focused for a period of time and multitask – all features that tend to decline with age according to Dr. Adam Gazzaley of the University of California.

Gazzaley and his colleagues used a three-dimensional game called “NeuroRacer” as the test game for the study. Test subjects were handed a joystick and were given instruction to follow various signs that pop up on-screen as they guide the vehicle in the simulation, pressing a button only when specific signs told them to do so. Gazzaley’s team measured the response (time and accuracy) of the subjects to see if there was any noticeable improvement over time.

"I looked forward to doing it," volunteer Ann Linsley, 65, said. And when the test was over and she had to return the game she shamelessly added, "I kind of missed it."

The outcome was noteworthy for sure, as 14 out of the 16 subjects that played the game for a total of 12 hours a month scored better than a group of 20-year-olds who played the game for the first time. A follow-up study with these same 14 subjects showed that the improvements were still apparent six months after the initial test.

Despite Gazzaley’s concern over the number of participants in the, he believes that this is only the beginning to helping older people retain their mental skills. And if it sheds a positive light on video games, who can be against that?

Source: [Nature]

Tags: video games, NeuroRacer, Adam Gazzaley, University of California

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