Finally some positive news surrounding video games: Play enough and you might curb Alzheimer’s, a disease that affects millions of people every year.
A study conducted by professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville, and Isabelle Peretz of the University of Montreal recommends that you play old school console games like Mario to help maintain and repair cognitive function.
“If you’re between 55 and 75 years old, you may want to try playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 to stave off mild cognitive impairment and perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”
In a 2013 and 2017 research study, participants in their 20s who were asked to play video games showed an increase of grey matter in the hippocampus, the region that controls navigation and memory.
After seeing such a positive set of results with a group of young adults, research targeted an older audience, 33 adults ages 55 to 75.
The adults were ordered to either: play video games for 30 minutes, 5 times a day; take first-time piano lessons for 30 minutes, 5 times a day; or do neither.
Through an MRI, researchers observed that the “dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” (decision-making), the cerebellum (motor control and balance), and the hippocampus (spatial memory) improved in participants who either engaged in video games or piano lessons.
In the participants who chose video games, memory and motor control matter increased.
For the piano lessons, decision making and motor control was where researchers observed the most improvement. So how do video games help your mind, exactly?
“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,” explains Professor West.
By developing a heightened sense of cognizance in game, you are forcing your mind to unconsciously work.
Though it’s been theorized and backed for a while, West shares his personal thoughts on the validity of the study:
“It remains to be seen. Whether it is specifically brain activity associated with spatial memory that affects plasticity, or whether it’s simply a matter of learning something new.”
My guess would be that it’s a mixture of both. I can’t imagine a stimulation that helps strengthen your hand-eye coordination and strategic planning not benefit your memory as well.
Cool. So future mind-games to keep our noggins workin’ right? It’s a new breakthrough, but I’m completely sold on the idea.
As far as current console games go, I know what I’m asking for Christmas!