Video Game Helps Aging Brain
Get Your Video Game On
Put down your knitting and grab your controller, Grandma! A specifically designed video game, NeuroRacer, isn’t just fun—it may help enhance cognitive abilities in older adults.
Older adults experience declines in cognitive control abilities as they age, including attention span and working memory.1 Past research has shown that an active lifestyle and an active brain has the ability to delay, or even prevent, memory loss.1
NeuroRacer challenges the brain, driving improvements.1 Our brain’s ability to reshape itself structurally, functionally, and chemically in response to the environment doesn’t end when we go through a critical stage of development—it has the ability to do so throughout our entire lives.1 As past research suggests commercial action video games have some cognitive benefits in youth, Director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California—San Francisco, Adam Gazzaley, M.D., and colleagues decided to create a game to benefit healthy, older adults.1
Play a Video Game, Improve Your Ability to Multitask
Gazzaley and colleagues conducted a study of 174 participants between the ages of 20 and 79.1 They were able to play a diagnostic version of NeuroRacer, which confirmed that as people age, their ability to multitask diminishes.1
Then, Gazzaley and colleagues conducted a second study of 46 individuals, aged 60 to 85.1 The participants were first given a series of cognitive tests and wore EEG caps to examine brain activity.1 Then, they were split into three groups: group one would play the multi-tasking version of the game, group two would play the single-task version of the game, and group three would not play the game at all.1
While playing the game, participants in the single-task version were confronted with signs that would pop up and directed them to press a button on the video game controller as fast as possible when it showed up again.1 During this task, they would come across other signs that were not their targeted sign.1 Players were judged on accuracy and the speed of their reaction.1
To create a multitasking environment, creators added a driving component on top of the signs.1 Players in the multitasking group were asked to drive a car into the horizon—moving according to the road, slowing down going up hills and speeding up when going down.1
Players were asked to play for one hour, three times per week, over a period of four weeks.1 At the end of the study, participants wore the EEG caps again, to examine changes in brain activity after game training.1 They also underwent the same cognitive tests as they did in the beginning.1
Video Games: Not All Bad
As a result, participants who played the multitasking version of the game over four weeks improved at their abilities to multi-task by almost 50 percent.1 Even when retested six months later, with no exposure to NeuroRacer, their ability to multi-task was almost just as well.1 Older adults who played the multitasking version of the game also showed enhanced abilities in the cognitive areas of sustained attention and working memory.1 Hmm, maybe not all video games are bad, after all!
 Landau, E. (2013, September 4). Video game may help aging brain. CNN.com. Retrieved September 27, 2013, from thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/04/video-game-may-help-aging-brain/