Scientists have created a video game that improves the short-term memory of older people

(ORDO NEWS) — What if video games not only entertained us in our free time, but also brought real benefits to our cognitive abilities? This is the promise of a new musical rhythm game that can not only teach drumming, but also improve short-term memory.

In a study of the effects of play, 47 adults aged 60 to 79 were divided into two groups. groups: one played a musical rhythm game (called Rhythm) and the other played a regular word search game for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks.

The difference between the two groups was obvious. : As players progressed in Rhythm, the way it targeted visual perception and selective attention had a domino effect on short-term memory, which was tested with a face recognition exercise.

“As predicted, only the rhythm group demonstrated an improvement in short-term memory on the face recognition task, thus providing important evidence that musical rhythm training can improve non-musical task performance,” the researchers wrote in the published paper.

The rhythm was designed with former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and used visuals. all prompts to teach participants how to play rhythm on the tablet. The required pace, difficulty and accuracy were adjusted as the players progressed.

Part of the feature of the game is that it can adapt to the person playing it, changing the difficulty level to push the player to improve without making it so difficult that it ruins the gameplay.

Post-training analysis was performed by electroencephalography (EEG) during a recognition task involving unknown faces.

After an eight-week course, rhythm lovers recognized faces better, and EEG data showed increased activity in the superior parietal lobe, an area of ​​the brain associated with sight reading and short-term visual memory.

“It’s amazing that memory improved at all,” says neuroscientist Theodore Zanto of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

“There is a very strong memory training component, and it has been extended to other forms of memory.”

The researchers involved in the study have been in the field since 2013, when they developed a game called NeuroRacer, a game that has been shown to significantly improve mental retardation and improve sustained attention and working memory in older adults in as little as four weeks.

This was followed by a game called the Body-Brain Trainer, which a recent study found to be able to improve blood pressure, balance and focus in older adults. In this case, heart rate data was constantly fed into the software so that the game could adapt to the fitness level of the participants.

Another game, Virtual Reality Maze, which involves users in spatial orientation, has shown that they can improve long-term memory in older people after four weeks of training.

Cognitive control often declines with age, but these games prove that there are ways to keep our minds sharp.

“These games are all based on the same adaptive algorithms and approach, but they use very, very different activities. And in all of them, we show that you can improve cognitive performance in this population,” says neuroscientist Adam Gazzali from the University of California, San Francisco.

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