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Super Mario for Memory: Video Games Give Boost to Aging Brains

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News

Super Mario for Memory: Video Games Give Boost to Aging Brains

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Being exposed to an environment filled with novel stimuli can benefit cognition, including memory. Studies have shown that rodents placed in enriched environments, compared to sparse environments, experience increased generation of nerve cells in brain regions that are critical for memory encoding and retrieval. Humans may also experience similar neurological benefits from novel environments. However, this exposure can be hindered by those who remain indoors, potentially due to viral pandemics or mobility impairments.

While memory performance was equivalent across groups prior to engaging in video game play, two weeks of Angry Birds™ or Super Mario™ gameplay resulted in improved recognition memory. Memory continued to improve after an additional two weeks for the Super Mario™ players compared to the Solitaire players and these improvements persisted after daily gameplay ended. No additional memory improvements were found in Angry Birds™ players.

These findings suggest that both novel experiences and exposure to rich three-dimensional environments may work together to improve cognition. Interventions for improving cognition are particularly important for older individuals because they are at risk for cognitive decline. In addition, video game interventions may be beneficial for individuals at any age and particularly for those who are homebound, thus unable to experience a wide variety of new environments. Although video games may not be an ideal substitute for real-world experiences, they may serve as an additional (and entertaining) method to improve cognitive health.

Reference:

Clemenson GD, Stark SM, Rutledge SM, Stark CEL. Enriching hippocampal memory function in older adults through video games. Behav Brain Res. 2020;390:112667. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2020.112667

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

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