Friday, 15 November 2013

New Youth Enhancing Video Game

       Remember the days when your parents told you to stop playing so many video games? Well now they should start playing more video games. According to a study by Anguera et al. (2013) a video game called ‘NeuroRacer’ has the ability to improve multitasking, attention, and memory in older adults, so much so that they are more proficient than their younger counterparts in their 20's.
      Your ability to multitask steadily declines from your 20's until you're about 79, at which time you’ll probably have started to notice that you’re not as sharp as you used to be; puzzles seem harder, calculating the tip on your dinner bill takes you longer, you've forgotten your wallet at home more times that you’d like to admit, and some days you just can’t seem to stay focused. You may even catch yourself mentally-snarling at younger people, who seem like they're constantly on their phones while listening to music, while having a conversation, while eating dinner. Sounds horrible right? 

        Let’s face it, we now live in a technology-dense world, where multitasking has not only become a standard in our everyday lives, but it’s almost become a necessary skill to keep up with our fast paced environments. The bad news? The older you get, the worse you get. The good news? Video games can help!

A screenshot of NeuroRacer
       Scientists have found that video game training with games like NeuroRacer, a driving game in which participants are asked to drive while shown different road signs for 1 hour every other day for 3-4 weeks, have helped older adults to learn how to eliminate the distractions in doing two things at once, increasing their ability to multitask, their memory, and their attention, as well as their response time while multitasking. When the participants were compared with younger video game players, the older participants actually scored higher in the game. The video game training also induced neuroplasiticity, or brain plasticity (the brains reorganization of itself throughout life by forming new connections), meaning that the video game helped the participant’s brains to re-wire themselves in a way that makes them more efficient at performing the tasks.

       So, when the day comes when you start feeling like you may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, it may be time to take a page out of your child’s book and turn on the video game console.

Interested in reading more? The article can be found by clicking on this link:

J. A. Anguera, J. Boccanfuso, J. L. Rintoul, O. Al-Hashimi, F. Faraji, J. Janowich, E. Kong, Y.
       Larraburo, C. Rolle, E. Johnston, and A. Gazzaley (2013). Video game training enhances
       cognitive control in older adults. Nature:10.1038/nature12486

-Jesica Mikkila

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