Like many other people (especially older ones), I took note of the announcement that cognitive scientists have tested a video game that they say “can improve the short term memory and long term focus of older adults,” according to an article in the New York Times.
The game is a far cry from the graphics intensive role player games that are all the rage these days, with simple graphics and little to do but guide a car and identify designated road signs without being thrown off by others. Even so, researchers say that once older adults have been trained and used the game for a while, they can perform better at it than twenty-somethings who are playing it for the first time.
Following sufficient game time, older adults also perform better on other tests of cognition unrelated to the game, researchers said, and even show an increase in brain waves called “theta,” which are associated with attention.
Adam Gazzaley, who led the $300,000 project at the University of California, San Francisco, said “We made the activity in older adults’ prefrontal cortex look like the activity in younger adults’ prefrontal cortex.”
That’s quite a claim.
While the article contains several caveats from scientists who are concerned that having older adults play video games could have unintended side effects, it’s good to see any progress being made toward helping golden agers maintain mental acuity.
I’m particularly interested in that because, according to the researchers, I’m an “older adult”: the project involved people in their 60s to their 80s, and I’m in the lower end of that spectrum.
I don’t feel old and try not to act old, and I’d like for it to stay that way. So, tricks to keep the brain young are always welcome: I can add them to my repertoire of Sudoku puzzles, keeping a running total of groceries in my head, and generally trying to maintain mental vigor.
I know the math sounds off, but for those who stay fit and active, I figure 60 can be the new 40, with or without video games.
Any other old codgers with me on this?