Video game shows promise for improving short-term memory in older adults

What if, in addition to enjoying our free time, video games have significant benefits for our cognitive abilities? That’s the promise of a new music video game called Rhythmicity, which consists of practicing simulated rhythmic beats as a way to improve short-term memory.


Rhythm is similar to the game above and stimulates players’ short-term memory by mimicking a rhythmic beat. Image: Rhythm-Plus

A study published in a scientific journal PNAS, divided 47 adults between the ages of 60 and 79 into two groups: one with access to a new game and the other with an electronic word search. The experiment was conducted for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, for eight weeks.

According to the researchers, the difference between the two groups was quite clear: as the players progressed through the rhythm, the game’s visual perception and selective attention focused pathways affected the participants’ short-term memory. recognition exercise.

“As hypothesized, only the Rhythmicity training group showed improved short-term memory on the face recognition task, providing significant evidence that musical rhythm training can be beneficial on a non-musical task,” the study authors said.

Through visual cues, the Rhythmicity video game teaches users how to play certain rhythms on a tablet, mobile phone or computer. Image: Fizkes – Shutterstock

Through visual cues, the game trains users to play certain rhythms on a tablet, mobile phone or computer. During the experiment, the pace, difficulty and required accuracy were adjusted as the players progressed.

According to the website Science alertWhat makes Rhythmicity special is that it can adapt to the user, changing the difficulty level to help them improve without ruining the game experience.

Post-training analysis of a face recognition task involving unfamiliar faces was performed using electroencephalography (EEG). The group that had access to Rhythmicity performed better at the end of the experiment, and EEG scans showed increased activity in the superior parietal lobe—a brain region associated with reading music and short-term visual memory.

“Memory improved over everything, it was amazing,” says neuroscientist Theodore Zanto of the University of California/San Francisco (UCSF). “There is a very strong memory training component to this, and it generalizes to other forms of memory.”

The study’s authors have been working in this area since 2013, when they created a game called NeuroRacer – a game that has been shown to significantly improve impaired mental skills and improve sustained attention and working memory in older adults after just four weeks.

They then developed a game called Body-Brain Trainer that can improve blood pressure, balance and attention in the elderly. In this case, heart rate data was constantly monitored so that the game could adapt to the fitness levels of the participants.

Another game, a virtual reality maze that engages users in spatial solutions, has been shown to improve long-term memory in older adults after four weeks of training.

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Aging often means a decline in cognitive control, but these games are proof that there are ways to maintain mental sharpness. “All these games have the same adaptive algorithms and approach, but they use very different activities. And in all of them, we’ve shown that it’s possible to improve cognitive abilities in the elderly,” said neuroscientist Adam Gazal, of UCSF, who co-authored the study.

interesting? Go to the Rhythmicity website and play online!

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