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Video games could battle dementia

Video games could battle dementia

 

The Future. Researchers are working on specially-designed video games that are promising to help our brains fight off the symptoms of dementia. It builds off the belief of neuroscientists that games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles keep the brain strong.  It’s still early days, but if these “brain training” video games are proven to make an impact over time, prepare for a little time in front of the PlayStation to be prescribed by doctors. 

Mental workout

WSJ reports that video games may be very good for the mind.

  • The games push players to “differentiate and recall sounds, patterns, and objects, making snap decisions that grow harder as the games progress.”
  • They try to “stimulate and speed up neural activity and slow deterioration in brain physiology that occurs with age.”

How so? According to Chandramallika Basak, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, brains have an insulation layer called myelin that keeps all the nerve fibers taut and bundled. But as people age, it unravels. Her team has found that games can increase that myelin or at least stop it from unraveling.

Think hard, play hard

There’s still a long way to go and a healthy debate over whether the games make a significant impact in the long term. But the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine already recommends playing them, and the National Institute on Aging is funding 21 clinical trials.

One of those studies has already found that it lowers dementia risk by 29% some ten years after starting to play games that require “speedy observations and snap decisions.”

Playtime really does increase our quality of life.

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