Video Game Training Enhances Cognitive Control in Older Adults

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A custom-designed video game can assess cognitive abilities over time and improve cognitive abilities as people age.

 

 

The Issue:

Multitasking has become ubiquitous in today’s society. Yet, previous research demonstrates that both multitasking and cognitive control abilities decline in adults as they age. This study examined the degree to which playing an adaptive version of a custom-designed three-dimensional video game called NeuroRacer, could improve older adults ability to multitask.

Key Findings

  • Older adults ages 60-85 attained levels beyond that of untrained 20 year olds, with gain persisting for six months.

  • The older adults reduced multitasking costs as compared to both an active control group and a no-contact control group.

  • The video game training resulted in an increase in midline frontal theta power. This finding predicted the training-induced boost in sustained attention and preservation of multitasking over time.

Conclusion:

Playing an adaptive version of a video game in multitasking mode increases cognitive control abilities in adults ages 60 to 85 as compared to two control groups.

About the Study:

To assess multitasking performance, a total of 174 participants participated in this study. Ages ranged from 20-79, with about 30 individuals per decade. Participants played NeuroRace for one hour three times per week for a month. They were tested again at six months.

 

This research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson's Health Games Research, a national program that explores the tremendous potential of digital interactive games as tools to help people live healthier lives.

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