Feeling forgetful? Reflexes slowing down? Having a hard time focusing your attention on more than one thing at a time? Like it or not, these are all pretty normal signs of aging. But they may not be inevitable. Want to sharpen your mind and get back some of that cognitive function? Play this video game. Researchers think it might just help you get back that mental edge.
NeuroRacer is a new game from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco that might just be the key to holding back the hands of time when it comes to our minds. It's an unwelcome fact that with age comes a decline in cognitive function, attention span and memory. But the theory behind this game is that we can exercise our minds to improve mental facilities and get back the edge that somehow gets lost over time.
For the study, researchers used a diagnostic setting of NeuroRacer to test about 175 adults aged 20 to 79. Their research confirmed that older adults are weak in multitasking, memory, and other cognitive function. Next, they recruited 50 adults aged 60 to 85. Some were asked to play a single-task version of NeuroRacer over a four-week period while others were given a multi-tasking version that required players to do a number of things (such as drive a car, respond to street signs, etc.) at the same time. Players also wore electroencephalography (EEG) caps so that researchers could examine their brain activity while they played.
Take a look at a video of the game below:
The results? Not only did the older adults who used the multi-tasking version of the game improve their cognitive function over the course of the study, but they actually performed better on many of the mental tests than many of their younger peers from the first assessment. Attention span, memory, and multi-tasking abilities all improved.
But before you pick up that joystick, you should know that researchers were quick to point out that you won't get results like this from just any video game. NeuroRacer was specifically customized for the purpose of improving certain cognitive skills.
At present, a Boston-based company is looking into developing a mobile version of NeuroRacer to see if it could actually be used as a clinical tool for the general public.
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