News / Health

Video Game Boosts Brain Power of Older Adults

Computer Game Could Sharpen Elderly Braini
September 06, 2013 10:49 AM
As people age, they may have more and more difficulty remembering things. Many also complain that their thinking is not as sharp as when they were younger. Doctors recommend various exercises to keep the brain active as long as possible. And now, a new study shows that some computer games also may help boost the mental abilities of elderly people. Zlatica Hoke has more.
"Computer Game Could Sharpen Elderly Brain" - related video report by Zlatica Hoke
Jessica Berman
Scientists have developed a video game for older adults that appears to improve their short-term memory and long-term focus.  Seniors who play the so-called multi-tasking game develop neurological improvements rivaling those of 20-year-olds.

Peoples’ short and long-term cognitive abilities decline with each passing decade.  But there is growing scientific evidence that the human brain, with the right stimulation, can be reprogrammed to counteract the effects of age.

The latest research comes out of the University of California San Francisco, where researchers developed a video game for seniors called NeuroRacer.  

The game study involved more than a dozen 60 to 80-year-old participants, who were asked to maneuver a video-screen car at the same time that signs flashed in front of them on a screen.  The signs were either relevant or irrelevant to the game play.  The participants followed signs they deemed relevant and disregarded those they thought were unimportant.

Researchers began their investigation by measuring how well participants performed on one task and compared it to how well they did when a second task was added.  

Compared with young people who played the game once, study lead author Adam Gazzaley said in a telebriefing with reporters there was a striking improvement in multi-tasking after seniors practiced at home for one month.

“Before training, they had a 65 percent drop in performance when they do the two tasks versus one task.  After training, they only had a 16 percent drop in performance. And that’s better than the 20-year-olds that had a performance drop in the 27 percent range," said Gazzaley.

Most striking to Gazzaley was that improvements in the seniors' brain power carried over for six months into other mental areas and without any additional game play...

“ sustained attention, which is vigilance, ability to hold your attention to something that is very boring and respond to it rapidly and accurately, that improved selectively in this group.  And also working memory, their ability to hold something in mind for a short period of time and respond to it accurately and rapidly; that also improved," he said.

Although he’s reluctant to endorse commercially available video games, Gazzaley says some shooter games that focus players’ attention on a particular target could have a similar benefit.

Gazzeley says his lab is in the process of developing other video games for people with attention deficit disorder and depression.

An article on a video game that boosts the brain power of older individuals is published in the journal Nature.

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Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 09, 2013 5:37 AM
Yes, everthing, not only video games, which stimulates us could boost not only brain power but all kinds of our abilitiy, positively or negatively.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Nakame, TKO
September 06, 2013 9:05 PM
I've heard several times about a goodness of playing video games for our brain. Does this report has some new findings?

Video games are good to improve elder people's brain but all video games are designed for younger people and it is too difficult to understand the rules and how to play games for eldery people.

Video games makers should develop

by: Anonymous
September 05, 2013 11:08 PM
Didn't Nintendo already have something like this back in 2006?

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