Want to fight Father Time? You might want to take up video games as a hobby.
Gaming can help you fight the aging process, according to scientists at UC San Francisco, who conducted a study using a specially designed game called NeuroRacer. NeuroRacer asks the player to race a car on a winding track while observing road signs. The subjects in the study, aged 60 to 85, had to not only observe road signs but also look for specific signs while ignoring others. When the sign they were asked to look for appeared, they had to press a button.
These tasks essentially forced the study's participants to multitask. Multitasking creates interference in the brain that can weaken performance. The researchers at UC San Francisco found through this study that this interference increases substantially the older you get.
The study found that after playing the game for only 12 hours over the span of a single month, the subjects displayed improved performance that was superior to the performance of people in their 20s who played the game once. The researchers also found that the subjects showed memory improvements as well as increased attention spans.
Adam Gazzaley, associate professor at UC San Francisco and developer of NeuroRacer, says that the key is to challenge the brain as opposed to giving it softball tasks to master.
"Normally, when you get better at something, it gets easier," Gazzaley said. With NeuroRacer, "When you get better, it gets harder."
The next version of NeuroRacer is currently in development. It'll be interesting to see whether further studies involving NeuroRacer and similar games developed by Gazzaley and his collaborators will confirm the findings of this study.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.
I cover video games, tech, privacy issues and more for IBT. Prior to joining the staff, I wrote for Major League Baseball, Computer Shopper and other publications. I earned...
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