After reading this I’m going to sign off and play some Tomb Raider multiplayer, because it’s healthy. Who’s with me?
Researchers from the University of Iowa report in the journal PLoS One on a study of 681 healthy adults over the age of 50 who were assigned to play either a video game called Road Tour or complete a computerized crossword puzzle. The video game required players to identify an image of a car, displayed only fleetingly at the start of the game, to a similar image as well as a matching road sign from a series of constantly changing options, most of which are red herrings. With each successive stage of the game, players received less time to complete their matches, so they needed to rely on their quick-thinking and processing skills to complete the game.
After playing for 10 hours, either in the lab or at home, players gained the equivalent of three years of cognitive “reserve,” according to the researchers’ calculations, when they were tested on mental skills a year later. That meant that these players showed cognitive functions that could hold off declines in memory and other executive functions such as planning and reasoning for about three years compared with those who completed crossword puzzles. And the more training the participants got with the game, the better; those who played for an additional four hours seemed to hold back cognitive decline by about four years.