The New York Times reports that researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, spent four years looking into the effects video games have on the aging brain. During that time, they developed a simple video game designed specifically for older adults. In NeuroRacer, players drive cars, and as they do so, they must identify some road signs while ignoring others.
Researchers were interested in creating a game that involved multitasking. Older people have a significantly more difficult time when multitasking compared to adults in their 20s, but the scientists behind this study are hopeful that certain games could help “rewire” the brain. The study authors were able to track brain wave activity in the brains of the participants, which could help future researchers understand which parts of the brain to target when developing methods to improve memory and attention span.
Earl K. Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT, told the news source that the research “shows you can take older people who aren’t functioning well and make them cognitively younger through this training.”
Improve your memory
This news should be exciting for seniors who are looking for ways to improve and maintain their cognitive function. Though there needs to be more research before doctors can diagnose gaming as a surefire method to boost brain health, there are other proven lifestyle changes that can make a difference.
Your diet, for example, can have a major impact on your mental health. According to AARP, cutting back on red meat and dairy products can be helpful. While there are some nutrients in these foods, eating too many saturated fats can lead to an increase in “bad” cholesterol, which affects cognitive function.
You can replace those steaks and cheeses with foods like fish and flaxseed. These items are high in omega-3s, which are widely known to help with brain function.