Can a Video Game Keep Your Mind Sharp As You Age?

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NeuroRacer

Over time people have suggested countless things to keep the brain sharp in old age. Whether it was old-time concoctions or simple reading and exercise, people will try anything you offer to prevent their mind from slipping as they get older. Now, the Boston Globe reports researchers are saying that regularly playing a video game which requires multitasking can improve basic cognitive functions.

The researchers used a driving computer game which required players to periodically respond to a sign. The older adults who played found they regained the abilities to pay attention or stay focused on a thought. The study was published in the journal Nature early last week.

“All these things are capitalizing on the fact that our brain’s plasticity to reshape itself structurally, functionally, and chemically doesn’t end when we go through a critical stage of development, but it exists through our lives,” said Dr. Adam Gazzaley, director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study.

The game they used is called NeuroRacer, is mostly focused on a simple driving task which requires participants to navigate up a winding mountain road which becomes more challenging. However, when a particular sign pops up, players are told to respond by pressing a button as quickly as possible.

The researchers evaluated the decline in performance occurring when the players had to drive and respond to sign. Having to do both at the same time caused an average of a 64 percent detriment to their performance. But, after playing for 12 hours over the period of a month, their scores improved to a level better than 20-year-olds who had only played the game once.

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