With so much controversy surrounding the influence that violent games have on our nation’s youth, evidence of the positive effects of gaming is often overshadowed. But a slew of recent studies have started a whole new debate about computer games and their potential for increasing cognitive function.
Those who believe computer games can actually increase brain function or slow the mental decline typically seen in aging individuals point to studies like the one recently conducted to test the effectiveness of a game called Double Decision. The premise of this game is simple – the player must identify a particular car and road sign amid distractions of increasing number and complexity. In the study, participants of varying ages were assigned to either play Double Decision or complete computerized crossword puzzles for several weeks. Cognitive tests were given both before and after the study. Participants who did the crossword puzzles showed expected one year cognitive decline rates but those who played Double Decision showed significant improvement over the typical decline. In light of these results, the AARP has started offering its members discounts on several such cognitive boosting computer games.
There are many however who are still doubtful about the claims of these “brain games”. They argue that the games simply train a person to perform better at a very specific task under a particular set of circumstances. Being able to quickly match pictures on a computer game does not necessarily mean that an individual will be able to remember where they put their car keys or whether they took their medications.
Regardless of your stance, there is one thing that always remains true – computer games are a fun way to spend time. The possibility that they could improve brain function is just icing on the cake.