Keeping Your Brain in Control with Video Games

Many interactive video games use skills and abilities such as language to understand the instructions, attention to avoid missing important details, visual-spatial ability for maneuvering, memory for remembering goals and characters, and executive functioning to plan out how to reach the goals or multiple step quests. Video games require flow, presence and immersion, having dedicated attention to be sure to do well.  They also provide much motivation, interest and enjoyment which helps them be an attractive choice in educational and mentally stimulating activity.
A recent study at UC San Francisco found a way to reverse negative effects of aging on cognition by using a video game that targets the specific brain-functions.  This study showed that the concept of brain fitness can be verified scientifically as valuable with lasting and meaningful changes.  The game used in this study specifically calls for a participant to practice multitasking in a fast paced setting while paying attention to random stimuli and the main task at hand.  After only 12 hours with this game over one month the participants who were ages 60-85 out-performed 20-somethings who were playing their first time.  An increase in working memory and sustained attention was also seen, and the skills were maintained for six months after the program ended.

Often when someone learns a task it gets easier, and they must continue to find harder or more novel stimuli to continue challenging their mind; however, with the medium of a video game, the entire activity can be programmed to get harder automatically as the person gets better at it giving them a constant challenge based on ability.

Brain training for the aging brain has been researched much over the past few decades and shown much promise for helping in the fight against dementia.