Video games Archives

Can Online Games Boost Brainpower?

“Online games may not boost brainpower,” stated a Science News article in yesterday’s Washington Post. In a previous post, I shared a study that did indeed boost the brainpower of a senior group. This study, however, consisted of a younger age group of 8,600 people in the 18 to 60 age bracket. According to the Post, “…they were recruited from among viewers of a British TV science show and asked to play online brain games designed to improve their memory, reasoning and other skills for at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week.” Researchers found that those who surfed the Internet did just as well and on some sections those that did not play the brain games did better than the test group.

The lead author of the study, Adrian Owen, assistant director of the cognition and brain sciences unit at Britain’s Medical Research Council, stated that the data suggests that playing the games will not improve your IQ. Arthur Kramer, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois suggests that people should be involved in physical activities because they can spark new connections between neurons and produce new brain cells.

Philip Adey, emeritus professor of psychology and neuroscience at King’s College in London says that games have to be challenging. He suggests learning a new language or sport if you want to really improve your brain power.

Want to try the games yourself? Click here or picture on the left.

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Video Games and Aging

Previously, I did a post on the Nintendo Wii. Now, according to  Jason Allaire, an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and co-director of its Gains Through Gaming Lab, “There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests playing video games actually can improve older adults’ reflexes, processing speed, memory, attention skills and spatial abilities.”  Wii can even provide physical exercise.

In an article on healthday.com, reporter Dennis Thompson says, “One study found that a Wii bowling game boosted the heart rate of players at a senior center in Pensacola, Fla., by about 40 percent. The game required that the players, who were in their 60s, 70s and 80s, hold the controller like a bowling ball and swing it to hit the pins in a virtual bowling alley.”

In July of last year, dailynews.com reported that California State University, Northridge, researchers say that a Nintendo video game, Brain Age 2, is helping to reverse mental aging among the elderly. They have seen some seniors in their 80’s improve their brain age to the 20’s. Giovanni Sosa, the CSUN psychology professor who heads the program, said the game helps stimulate the brain through tasks like solving simple math problems, counting currency, drawing pictures on the Nintendo DS touch screen and unscrambling letters. “The game is designed to help work your brain and increase blood flow to the prefrontal cortex,” according to Sosa.

In order to play Brain Age 2, it does require that you also have Nintendo DS Lite. Click here for more information on the Nintendo DS Lite and click here for Brain Age 2.

Since writing the post on the Wii, we have received it as a gift from our boys and their families and it has brought us many hours of fun and challenges. Although you can play with others, the goal is to always better your own score so basically you are competing with yourself. Hence, if one person is much better than you are, it does not matter.

What are your experiences with Brain Age or Wii Fitness?