Real-Time Strategy Game Used to Help Seniors Improve Cognitive Skills

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This month's Psychology & Aging contains a study performed by Arthur Kramer, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, arguing that (using Rise of Nations as a model) video games can improve cognitive functions in adults in their 60s and 70s.
Kramer and his team noted that "Older people tend to fare less well on things that are called executive control processes. These include things like scheduling, planning, working memory, multitasking and dealing with ambiguity."

The study had 40 adults play the game and then performed standard tests to measure these executive control processes. Half of the subjects were given 23.5 hours of training playing Rise of Nations. The other half did not play the game. According to the researchers, "The gamers became significantly better – and faster – at switching between tasks compared with the comparison group." Their working memory, reasoning ability and their ability to identify rotated objects also improved.

How much play helps improve mental functioning? "In medical terminology, these would be dose-response effects," Kramer said. "The more drug – or in this case the more training on the video game – the more benefit."

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 11, 2008 12:00 AM.

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