Anyone born in the '80s or later has likely had to deal with people saying that video games are bad in at least some way, whether it be their mental effects or the physical effect of staring at a screen and not moving around. Although there are some downsides to video games, researchers at the University of California have found a connection between video games and brain functionality.
The report, published in Nature, showed that when elderly people were given sessions of video game playing time, some of the adverse effects of aging on the brain began to reverse. Adam Gazzaley, an associate professor of neurology, physiology and psychiatry who led the UC San Francisco researchers, believes these findings could be beneficial in preparing treatments for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia, and autism, as well.
How the Study Worked
The researchers designed a game called NeuroRacer, specifically for use in the study. In order to construct a test and control group, the researchers looked at the scores in the game from people in their 20s as well as an older test group that included people 65 to 80 years old.
The older group played the game, which involved racing a car along a track and knocking down signs when they came up, for 12 hours stretched across one month. If scores began to improve within that time, the researchers would increase the difficulty of the game for the next month. After four months of this, the seniors had higher scores in the game than the untrained 20-year-olds.
Seniors also had increases in attention and memory test scores after the game was played for a few months. The scope of the study was limited, with just 46 seniors participating, but researchers are hopeful that it will lead to future studies that can confirm their findings.
Benefits of Video Games
The UC San Francisco study is not the first to end up with results suggesting that video games provide multiple benefits to people in various age groups. Most of these studies are in their early-stages, but some have been replicated with similar results.
A study from North Carolina State University looked at the effect of video games on seniors as well. In their study, researchers found a connection between happiness and video game use. Seniors that stated they occasionally played video games were more frequently "happy" and less likely to suffer from mood changes as they aged.
Many parents and teachers tend to suggest that video games are bad for your eyes, and some studies have confirmed that. However, researchers with McMaster University discovered that people suffering from cataracts -- a "clouding" of the eye that causes vision issues -- were able to improve their vision by playing video games. Specifically, Dr. Daphne Maurer, director of the Visual Development Lab at the Canadian university, found that vision improved in subjects that played first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor.
Posted: 2013-09-08 @ 5:50pm PT
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