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UC San Francisco (UCSF)

Older Adults Can Benefit from UCSF 3D Video Game

9,306 views 7 months ago
http://www.ucsf.edu/news/20...

Scientists at UC San Francisco are reporting that they have found a way to reverse some of the negative effects of aging on the brain, using a video game designed to improve cognitive control.

The findings, published this week in Nature, are the first to show how a specially designed 3-D video game can improve cognitive performance in healthy older adults. The researchers said it provides a measure of scientific support to the burgeoning field of brain fitness, which has been criticized for lacking evidence that it can induce lasting and meaningful changes.

In the game, which was developed by the UCSF researchers, participants race a car around a winding track, while a variety of road signs pop up. Drivers are instructed to keep an eye out for a specific type of sign, while ignoring all the rest, and to press a button whenever that particular sign appears. The need to switch rapidly from driving to responding to the signs -- i.e. multitasking -- generates interference in the brain that undermines performance. The researchers found that this interference increases dramatically across the adult lifespan.

But after just 12 hours of training on the game spread over a month, the 60- to 80-year-old study participants improved their performance until it surpassed that of 20-somethings who played the game for the first time.

The training also improved the participants' performance in two other important cognitive areas: working memory and sustained attention. And participants maintained their skills at the video games six months after the training had ended.

"The finding is a powerful example of how plastic the older brain is," said Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, UCSF associate professor of neurology, physiology and psychiatry and director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center. Gazzaley co-founded the company, Akili Interactive Labs, which is developing the next generation of the video game.

Story written by Laura Kurtzman. Video shot and produced by Leland Kim. Show less
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