Video Game Boosts Older Adults' Short-Term Memory
Playing video games might be a pleasant way to pass the time, but they can also help us grow our brains in new ways. ScienceAlert was the first to report on a new musical rhythm game that backs up suggestions that playing some video games might lead to cognitive benefits, with some even protecting cognitive performance as we age.
Researchers are actively investigating the possibility of employing several types of video games to improve the memories of senior citizens. With aging, however, comes cognitive decline.
A significant number of older people continue to believe that video games are detrimental to the maturing brains of young people. On the other hand, an increasing body of research supports claims that playing certain video games may lead to cognitive advantages, some of which can even safeguard cognitive functioning as we age.
Memory, reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving are just few of the cognitive functions that are impacted by dementia. It worsens with time, and there is currently no treatment available for it. This makes it more imperative to maintain our mental sharpness.
There are many video games available today that are challenging enough to improve a player's hand-eye coordination, ability to make decisions, capacity for visual recognition, and memory.
Now, combine the notion of game playing with the development of musical practice and training and you get Rhythmicity.
Playing a musical instrument requires using a wide range of cognitive skills, such as sensory awareness, selective attention, and short-term memory. An increasing body of research suggests that activating certain cognitive processes during musical training will improve performance of these same functions.
However, there is little evidence to suggest that training in musical instruments might enhance non-musical activities, and it is unknown how the brain would benefit from the training remained a mystery.
In a recent study, a preregistered randomized clinical trial in which nonmusicians were divided into two groups and given eight weeks of instruction in either musical rhythm or word search. This was done to solve the issue.
Rhythm is an essential component in the higher-order cognitive processes that take place in our brains, including perception, attention, and memory. This includes not only the rhythmic fluctuations of neural activity that are observable in every brain area, but also the very mechanism by which brain areas communicate with each other. It is now understood that this involves the long-distance synchronization of rhythms across the brain. In addition, this includes the rhythmic fluctuations of neural activity that are observable in every brain area.
Rhythmicity is a mobile cognitive training platform that was created to teach rhythm with the intention of increasing overall cognitive performance.
One group played the musical rhythm game (named Rhythmicity), while the other group played a regular word search game for 20 minutes a day, five days a week for eight weeks as part of the research on the impacts of the game. The 47 participants were all people aged between 60 and 79 years old.
The difference between the two groups was very discernible as players advanced in Rhythmicity. The way the game targeted visual perception and selective attention impacted short-term memory, which was examined via a facial recognition exercise.
Only the musical rhythm training was shown to enhance face memory, and this improvement was shown to be connected with increased activity in the superior parietal area of the brain during the process of storing and preserving faces. Therefore, training in musical rhythm may enhance face memory by aiding the encoding and maintenance processes that the brain uses to store memories.
Furthermore, short-term memory preservation was enhanced, as seen by an increase in the accuracy of two-class decoding (face/scene). Both activity throughout the encoding and maintenance stages point to the right superior parietal lobule (SPL) as a source of training-related changes. Musical rhythm training may improve face memory by increasing activity in the superior parietal lobe (SPL), which increases memory storage and retention. This might be used in a domain-general approach to improve performance on a task unrelated to music.
In order to conduct the post-training study, electroencephalography (EEG) was used in conjunction with a recognition task that included unfamiliar faces. The EEG readings showed increased activity in the superior parietal lobule, which is the region of the brain that is linked to sight reading music and short-term visual memory. After the eight-week course, Rhythmicity players were better at identifying faces, and the EEG readings showed this activity.
Immersive visuals and adaptive game play keep users interested as they tap beats on a touch screen tablet or drum set to the music of Thievery Corporation, Rob Garza, and Mickey Hart. The game was inspired by a partnership with Mickey Hart, the drummer from the Grateful Dead. The difficulty of Rhythmicity ramps up in both speed and complexity as the player advances through the game, posing a variety of synchronization issues.
The game has the ability to adjust its degree of difficulty based on the person who is playing it. This allows the game to serve as a motivator for the player to become better while preventing the game from being so challenging that it detracts from the overall experience of playing the game.
According to neuroscientist Theodore Zanto of the University of California, San Francisco, the fact that there was even a little increase in memory was amazing. "There is a very strong memory training component to this, and it generalized to other forms of memory."
In 2013, the researchers developed a game called NeuroRacer – a game that has been shown to be able to significantly improve diminished mental faculties and improve sustained attention and working memory in older adults after only four weeks – the researchers who are responsible for this study have been active in this field.
After then, there was a game called Body-Brain Trainer, which, according to a recent research, may help increase blood pressure, balance, and attention in senior citizens. In that scenario, heart rate data was continuously given back to the program so that the game could adjust to the varying degrees of physical fitness shown by the players.
One such game, the virtual reality Labyrinth, which challenges players to navigate unfamiliar environments, has shown that, after four weeks of training, it may boost long-term memory in older individuals.
These games prove that there are methods to retain our mental sharpness even as we grow older, even though becoming older is frequently associated with reduced cognitive control.
"In spite of the fact that these games all make use of the same general adaptive methodology and algorithms, the activities that players engage in are quite diverse. And in every one of them, we demonstrate that it is possible to increase cognitive capacities in this group, "According to UC San Francisco neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley.
A decline in cognitive control often comes with getting older, but these games are evidence that there are ways to maintain our mental sharpness, said doctor Gazzaley.