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Research: Video Gaming Improves Older Brains

by Fox Van Allen on September 05, 2013

A while ago here on Techlicious we talked about how video games – specificially Tetris – can be used to help cure lazy eye. As it turns out, that’s not the only health benefit gaming offers. According to a study by University of California, San Francisco, video games might actually help our brains work better at every day tasks.

In the scientific study, researchers essentially created a dumbed down game of Mario Kart designed to test older persons’ ability to multitask. The object of the game is deceptively simple: Navigate a car around a track while being simultaneously asked to press different buttons. But as study participants improved, the game’s difficulty automatically increases to keep pace, continuously challenging the brain.

After playing the game for a total of 12 hours, a number of participants reported some pretty powerful and astonishing benefits. Some participants reported an improvement in their ability to pay attention. Said one 65-year-old in the study, “I feel like my brain is working better.”

The improvements in memory and concentration actually stuck around for 6 months after participants stopped playing the video game. That’s led the UC team to seek FDA approval to use the racing sim as a treatment for ADHD. That process could take years, but there’s no need to just wait around. A number of companies have already developed brain-training apps that – honest to goodness – actually work.

To learn more about this study, visit the UCSF website.


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