NeuroRacer Improves Mental Skills in Elderly Subjects
Neuroscientists at the University of California San Francisco have developed a video game designed to increase cognitive abilities in elderly people. The game, NeuroRacer, has been found to combat the signs of an aging brain, increasing the player's speed and memory retention. Even those that only played for a short time period, 12 hours, showed a drastic improvement in these areas.
The simple racing game was based on findings that older people are more easily distracted than their younger counterparts. Players, using a joystick, drive along a winding road while various road signs and distractions come into view. They must ignore some of these signs and press an alert button when other symbols become visible. The goal of the game was to increase memory and reaction speed, functions that are generally slowed down with age.
The game proved successful, with players showing a marked improvement in multitasking, attention, and recall. Some of the elderly subjects that had played for only 12 hours performed better on tests than those in their 20's. Sensors showed increased neuron activity in the memory and focus center of the brain after players reacted to a symbol.
The results are impressive, however scientists aren't able to discern whether this will help keep grandma out of an old folk's home. There haven't been any studies conducted to whether or not these skills translate into the real world. A new behavioral study would be required to test any benefits of NeuroRacer.
UCSC scientists plan to continue research into cognition-enhancing games by developing games for subjects with ADHD and depression.