Video Games May Stave Off Mental Decline

By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2009 7:23 PM CDT
Maria Schoedel (L), standing next to student Josef Kiener (L) and Markus Deindl plays Nintendo Wii bowling at the Malhaelden seniors home on August 4, 2008 in Pforzheim, Germany.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Shelling goblins and building medieval empires may be perfect ways to stave off cognitive decline, Anita Hamilton writes in Time. Research already shows that challenging tasks can keep brains sharp in old age, but now multi-million-dollar studies are getting the elderly to play video games—not puzzle or math games, but shoot-'em-ups like Wii's Boom Blox. "Part of it is making it fun so it does not feel like work," says one researcher.

Skeptics have already laughed off claims that games like Nintendo's Brain Age give the mind a meaningful workout. "We know that cognitive stimulation is good but we don't know what type or the amount," says one neuropsychologist. But a Swedish study made one group of 65-year-olds significantly sharper with 5 weeks of cognitive game-playing. Perhaps video games aren't numbing the minds of kids after all.