A new study shows that playing games for brain fitness may improve memory in elderly people with mild memory impairment. On the other hand, if you’re still young, you may not want to waste your time. Find out why.
Can playing brain fitness games improve memory in the elderly? According to a new study, games for brain fitness could play a role in improving verbal and visual memory in elderly people who have mild memory loss.
According to a recent study, elderly people with mild memory impairment and cognitive deficits can experience modest improvements when they play brain fitness games that challenge their ability to think and remember.
To test this, researchers instructed a group of thirty-eight elderly patients to play computer based brain fitness games for an average of 92 sessions. There was also a control group who didn’t play brain fitness games – which consisted of games that challenged memory, spatial skills, and math and language skills at levels that gradually increased in difficulty.
The elderly patients were tested at intervals to see how they were responding to the games. Although memory in these patients was only marginally improved after two months of game playing, at six months elderly patients who played the brain fitness games had significantly better scores for verbal and visual memory compared to the control group. The longer the elderly played games for brain fitness, the more likely they were to show improvements.
Brain fitness games may help the elderly improve memory skills, but playing these games won’t necessarily help the average person get smarter. A group of British researchers recently found that online brain training games have little effect on overall cognitive skills or the ability to solve problems – but this study only looked at healthy individuals without memory impairment. It doesn’t rule out the possibility that brain games help to improve memory in elderly people with mild memory deficits.
Websites like Luminosity have sprung up online that offer brain fitness games – claiming they improve memory and help a person think more clearly. They offer entertainment value, but there’s little proof that they offer any long-term cognitive benefits for healthy people without memory problems.
The bottom line? Playing brain fitness games may not dramatically increase memory and thinking skills in the elderly, but if they play them consistently it could lead to modest improvements. There’s little downside, since these games are engaging and provide entertainment for elderly people who may be housebound – and it may be better than watching television. On the other hand, there’s little evidence they improve memory or thinking skills in healthy, young people.
Family Practice News. April 1, 2010. page 48.
MSN.com website. “Brain Games’ Do Not Make You Smarter”.