Neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley from the University of California, San Francisco, has published a study suggesting video games created to specifically target a cognitive deficit can improve the daily life of the individual in question. What’s more, Gazzaley claims other non-targeted cognitive areas can also reap benefits.
It’s not the first time that a study has suggested gaming can improve cognitive functions but it’s one of the few that successfully demonstrates how increased cognitive responses can be seen daily activities away from gaming.
The neuroscientist and his team used a group of 30 test subjects ranging in age from 20 to 70. He had them play a game called NeuroRacer – originally designed to help elderly people improve multitasking abilities – to confirm multitasking ability degrades with age. He then brought in a second group consisting of 46 subjects between the ages of 60 and 85 years of age and had them play the game over a four week period.
These subjects were then tested against 20 year olds that weren’t familiar with the game but were expected to have better multitasking abilities that would in theory help them do better in the game. Gazzaley discovered the elderly group regularly outperformed the young group and even did so more than six months later without any practice.
Although multitasking was the main focus of the study, the team also found measured improvements in other areas such as memory and sustained attention. Tests also showed a general increase in neurological activity.