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Video games improve cognitive health


A new study indicates that playing certain video games can help older people improve their cognitive health.

Led by Université de Montréal Psychology Professor, Gregory West, the Canadian-based team discovered that in separate tests carried out on people in their 20s, in 2014 and 2017, that the ‘gray matter in their hippocampus’ – which is linked to memory – increased after training with ‘3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms like Super Mario 64’.

The team wanted to see if a similar affect could be achieved with an older age group. So it tested 33 people – aged 55 to 75 – over six months. They were split into three groups: one played Super Mario 64 for half an hour every week day, one took piano lessons to the same timetable and the other didn’t take part in a specific activity.

MRI scans revealed gray matter increased in the group which played video games. The research also showed this group enjoyed improved short-term memory.

“3-D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is exploring. Several studies suggest stimulation of the hippocampus increases both functional activity and gray matter within this region,” said West.

And video games are increasingly being used to tackle health problems.

A recent study led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that youngsters with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experienced improved balance after playing a specially designed video game.

While another, conducted by researchers from Imperial College London, showed a specially designed game could help rehabilitate people who have suffered from conditions including strokes.

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