Mental health 06/09/2013 at 15:32

Video Game Enhances Cognition

Scientists performing research at the University of California in San Francisco recently developed a 3D driving video game that may prove valuable in enhancing the cognitive and multi-tasking abilities in older people. “Medical News Today” reported that the researchers evaluated the game on 174 adults aged 20 to 79. During the course of the study, every individual was required to play the game for one full hour three times per week over a time frame of one month. The subjects wore caps that monitored EEG activity during game play.
Using a typical game controller equipped with a joystick, the game involved driving a vehicle forward along a winding road. Initially, the participants were instructed to stop driving and respond to one out of several signs that appeared on the screen during play. The subjects were then told to respond to the sign while maintaining control of the vehicle. Researchers developed the game with adaptive abilities. Players exhibiting high skills received greater challenges.

Prior to game play, scientists determined notable differences in the pre-frontal cortex function of older participants compared to younger individuals. After training on the game, scans revealed that the cortex function of older adults improved dramatically and compared favourably to the younger subjects. Follow-up research also indicated that the new learned abilities continued six months after the laboratory game playing sessions ended.

These abilities transferred into the daily lives of the participants. The older adults remained alert in a variety of situations, experienced an improvement in short-term memory and handled multi-tasking more effectively. Professor Gazzaley, a member of the research team, believes that further research may indicate that the “NeuroRacer”game may hold the key in treating other neurological and psychological disorders. (