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Older Brains Benefit From Video Game

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senior gamer playing NeuroRacer

A preliminary study suggests the NeuroRacer videogame may help people in their 60s and older boost mental abilities like handling multiple tasks at once.

Credit: Gazzaley Lab / AP Photo

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) scientists have developed a video game to test whether specifically designed games could help treat neurological disorders. The scientists found that people between the ages of 60 and 85 who played the game, NeuroRacer, showed improved cognitive controls such as multitasking and the ability to sustain attention, and that the effects can be long lasting.

The research "is a powerful example of how plastic the older brain is," says Adam Gazzaley, a director of the UCSF Neuroscience Imaging Center and co-author of the study. Plasticity refers to the brain's ability to mold itself, even in older age, and the apparent interconnectivity of the brain's cognitive control functions.

The scientists spent about a year designing the game, which has players navigate a race car along a winding track, while hitting a button on a controller whenever a green circle appears, in an attempt to challenge their multitasking ability. After training on the game for 12 hours over the course of a month, the older adults outperformed untrained 20-year-olds and the positive effects lasted for at least six months.

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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