Memory care: The relationship between computer games, computer use, and brain health.
Today, technology has advanced so much that every most adults have access to digital devices that were unimaginable decades agot. In 2016 there was an estimated 2.1 billion smartphone users, and almost half the population on earth—an estimated 3.2 billion users—had access to the internet. With so much technological influence at our fingertips, scientists are finding new ways to help people overcome issues related to brain health. Computer use and playing computer games to improve brain functions has been a recent field of interest and has proved to be quite successful.
Studies Have Demonstrated Video Gaming Can Have Positive Cognitive Effects
Video games have been subjected to criticism, and the media is quick to relate violence in children to the influence of videogames. However, recent studies have shown that playing video games can actually be beneficial to the brain. These benefits are not limited to children alone, and some have even shown better influence in elders than the younger generation.
One such study was conducted among 174 subjects, from 20 to 70 years of age. Their brain activity was monitored while playing a game known as NeuroRacer using electroencephalography caps and 16 adults with ages ranging from 60 to 85 were given the game to be played at home three times a week for a month. After the end of this period, they were again tested with electroencephalography caps that read the electrical activity of the brain. In addition, they were given a set of cognitive tests to measure memory and attention. The results showed that the adults who were playing the game at home showed improvements in multitasking. They were found to perform better than the untrained 20 year olds and remained so for six months without additional practice.
Benefits From Gaming: Concentration, Reasoned Judgement, Memory, Spatial Awareness, and More.
According to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 116 scientific studies were analyzed to find a relationship between video games and its effect on the brain. According to the analysis, it has been identified that playing video games change how the brain functions. Improvements were identified in the level of attention of gamers compared to non-gamers. The brains of individuals who played games had improvements in the regions that were in charge of attention and they were able to focus much faster and hold their attention for extended periods of time. Some of the studies showed that playing games can improve the size and efficiency of the right hippocampus, which is tasked with visual and spatial skills.
Other studies have identified the role of video games in improving concentration, reasoned judgment, memory and mapping improvements, spatial awareness, hand eye coordination and fine motor control. These improvements can significantly help improve the quality of life of seniors who are experiencing Alzheimer’s. Therefore, making computers accessible and arranging a portion of time from a senior’s day to engage in computer related activities will greatly benefit and improve the conditions of adults in assisted living and memory care communities.
If you have a family member who is experiencing memory loss, please consider how computer use might be incorporated into their daily routines as a memory loss prevention technique.
Servick, K., Simon, M., Niiler, E., Rogers, A., Wolchover, N., Stewart, J. and Stirone, S. (2017). Videogame May Help Rejuvenate Elderly Brains. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2013/09/video-game-elderly/ [Accessed 20 Nov. 2017].
Marc Palaus, Elena M. Marron, Raquel Viejo-Sobera, Diego Redolar-Ripoll. Neural Basis of Video Gaming: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00248
Raise Smart Kid. (2017). The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games - Raise Smart Kid. [online] Available at: https://www.raisesmartkid.com/3-to-6-years-old/4-articles/34-the-good-and-bad-effects-of-video-games [Accessed 20 Nov. 2017].