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article imagePlaying video games helps older people stay sharp

By Tim Sandle     Sep 7, 2013 in Health
Training for several hours with a racing video game improved the multitasking abilities of 60- to 85-year-olds for up to six months, according to new research.
Researchers have demonstrated that a small number of training sessions behind the wheel in a 3-D racing game could improve multitasking performance, and that such improvements lasted up to six months. The study improvements were greatest for a group of people aged over 60 years old and up to 85 years old, the Daily Telegraph notes.
For the study, the researchers developed their own video game which they dubbed NeuroRacer. For the game, players were required to steer a car around a winding track with a finger on their left hand while signaling the presence of randomly appearing road signs of a particular shape and color with a finger from their right.
To examine the effects of age, a range of different subjects were used, starting from the age of 20. What was found, initially, was that the ability to play the game well declined with age. However, after playing the game for 12 hours over a four-week period, 60- to 85-year-old subjects improved to the point that they outperformed 20-year-old subjects who had never played the game before.
It is reasoned by the researchers that by playing the game, older people improved both their working memory and sustained attention span.
The study was carried out by neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley from the University of California, San Francisco. The findings have been published in the journal Nature.
It should be noted, according to the Wall Street Journal, that other studies of the use of video games to halt, or even reverse, cognitive decline related to aging have generated different results.
More about Video games, Multitasking, Elderly, reflexes
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