Brain Games

<< Back to Health & Wellness, January 2014

    The debate over whether video games improve cognitive function or eat away at it like Pac-Man has been raging ever since Atari’s heyday. While no definite consensus has been reached, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have determined that video games targeted for a particular population and for specific tasks can indeed give the aging brain a boost. The study, authored by Joaquin Anguera in neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley’s laboratory, found that when octogenarians played a driving video game the research team developed called NeuroRacer, engineered to test multi-tasking skills and memory, not only did the participants’ brains behave like those of 20-year-olds in the short term, but the effects lasted for six months—even without repeating the game. “This is empirical evidence that there are things we can do to keep brains young,” says Anguera. Gary Small, MD, PhD, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at UCLA’s Longevity Center, explains, “We know that people who are bilingual have a lower risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Basically, any activity that is challenging could be good for your brain.” So whether that includes racing cars on a video screen or on a track, if it challenges your mind, it helps keep your brain young and healthy.

    Photo by dolgachov/Thinkstock
    While we routinely make sacrifices for the people we feel closest to — our spouses, children and...
    Could our reaction to an image of an overweight or obese person affect how we perceive odor? A trio...
    illustration by Carl wiens
    Lessons learned from early organ recipients continue to hearten the future of transplant medicine....
    Molecular inhibitor represents new treatment target for drugs to halt atherosclerosis Working with...
    Gene Variation Affects Brain Cell Development Johns Hopkins researchers have begun to connect the...
    Molecular “Eat Now” Sign Makes Cells Devour Dying Neighbors A team of researchers has devised a Pac...
    Star-shaped brain cells may help control brain’s focus A new study from The Johns Hopkins...
    Discoveries hail from cataloging human proteins Striving for the protein equivalent of the Human...
    Compounds in saliva may fend off chemicals in tea and coffee A compound in saliva, along with...
    Scientists discover how tumor cells divide when oxygen-starved Most cells do not divide unless...