If you’re a crossword puzzle fanatic then listen up. It appears that video games improve memory and other cognitive skills far better than crossword puzzles do. Researcher Fredric Wolinsky at the University of Iowa compared the effects of playing the game Road Tour against playing computerized crossword puzzles and found that video games could turn back as many as 7 years of age-related mental decline.
Video Games Improve Memory
The groups that played the game at least 10 hours, either at home or in a lab at the university, gained at least three years of cognitive improvement when tested after one year.
A group that got four additional hours of training with the game did even better, improving their cognitive abilities by four years, according to the study.
“We not only prevented the decline (in cognitive abilities), we actually sped them up,” Wolinsky said.
The key appeared to lie in improving the brain’s processing speed, which can also widen one’s field of view.
“As we get older, our visual field collapses on us,” Wolinsky explained.
“We get tunnel vision. It’s a normal functioning of ageing. This helps to explain why most accidents happen at intersections because older folks are looking straight ahead and are less aware of peripherals.”
The study builds on research begun in the 1990s on efforts to improve memory, reasoning and visual processing speed.
The researchers found those who played Road Tour scored far better than the crossword puzzle group in functions such as concentration, nimbleness with shifting from one mental task to another and the speed at which new information is processed.
The improvement ranged from 1.5 years to nearly seven years in cognitive improvement, the study found.
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What could be a more entertaining way to improve memory than playing video games? Since it appears that video games improve memory in such profound ways, it’s well worth adding them to your repertoire of memory enhancing activities. Why not challenge your kids to a game!
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