Video games improve the thinking of older people

In a study of 40 adults in their 60s and 70s, researchers found that those who learned to play a strategy-heavy video game improved their scores on a number of tests of cognitive function. Men and women who trained in the game for about a month showed gains in tests of memory, reasoning and the ability to “multi-task.”

The study included 40 older adults who were randomly assigned to either the video-game group or a comparison group that received no training in the game. Over 1 month, the gamer group spent about 23 hours training in “Rise of Nations,” an off-the-shelf video game where players seek world domination.

The findings are in line with research suggesting that older adults can improve their cognitive health by staying both physically active and mentally active through activities such as reading, writing or other hobbies.

“Playing video games with their grandkids would also be a great idea,” senior researcher Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “because we know that social interactions — along with physical exercise and intellectual challenge — also enhance the cognitive abilities of older adults.”

By Amy Norton, Reuters; excerpts, edited by TheFreeWindows

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