What's the Latest Development?

The kinds of multitasking abilities required by video games may help stem the tide of cognitive decline which naturally accompanies the aging process, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature. "Led by neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco, the study found that a game called NeuroRacer can help older people to improve their capacity to multitask — and the effect seems to carry over to tasks in everyday life and is still there after six months. The study also shows how patterns of brain activity change as those cognitive skills improve."

What's the Big Idea? 

According to researchers, the most beneficial cognitive requirements of video games are attention focusing, task switching and working memory (the ability to temporarily hold multiple pieces of information in the mind). As players' skills increased, "so did activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with cognitive control, in a manner that correlated with improvements in sustained-attention tasks." Exercising these muscles of the brain, so to speak, may also aid in the treatment of neurological disorders from depression to schizophrenia, said researchers behind the current study.

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Read it at Nature