Save Your Brain with Video Games
Of all the myriad ways available to keep your brain healthy and supple as you age, one surprising method that few of us might ever think of is video games. While video games have been maligned over the years as a source of concern for parents worrying about their children becoming lazy or mindless junkies, the truth is that a study by the University of Montreal found that subjects who played video games had more gray matter in their hippocampus after playing. The hippocampus is an important part of the brain, as it is primarily in charge of the various memory functions, such as short-term, long-term, and spatial.
The game in question used in the study was Super Mario 64, a three-dimensional platforming game that requires spatial awareness, timing, and precise jumping from platform to platform in a virtual space. Researchers theorized that the game aided the hippocampus by causing players to create a cognitive map of the virtual surroundings, which helps in reducing the atrophy of gray matter, especially in the elderly.
For seniors and their loved ones, this study is a great start. The more options available to train our brains and keep them supple and sharp, the better. So while you may have previously thought that video games were good for nothing, mere electronic diversions that just make the players softer and turn their brains to mush, maybe the next time you’re over visiting your gamer grandchildren, ask if they’ll pass the controller over to you for a turn.