Video Games in The Fight Against Dementia

Video games fighting dementia

Recent studies have shown that people who play video games can potentially reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease as gaming stimulates parts of the brain that may otherwise lie dormant and become prone to degeneration. New research shows the connection between playing 3D games and the growth of brain cells in critical areas of older people’s brains.

This research was done in two separate studies, with similar results:

  • Study 1

A study that was published in The Journal of Neuroscience, has found that the grey matter located in the hippocampus, which is the main area of the brain used for memory building and the first to illustrate the effects of Alzheimer’s, has shown growth when playing 3D video games. Interestingly enough, 2D games do not have the same effect on the brain as 3D games and researchers found that a 3D game like Super Mario could boost memory up to 12%, the amount that memory decreases between the age of 45 and 70.

Stimulating the brain

This brain growth activity was first shown in younger adults, with no memory issues, but is now being proven to assist with older adults who are more prone to issues that cause brain degeneration.

  • Study 2

Another study’s results show that the chance of getting dementia lowers by 29% when adults play specific games. This study was conducted using over 2800 people with an average age of 74, and was funded by the US National Institute of Health. The study was based on a 3D computer game designed specifically for the research tests, and participants were made to look at an object in the middle of the screen and click on another object that appeared in the periphery.

The difficulty level increases as the users memory improves, with the exercises becoming more taxing, and moving faster.

New hope for those with dementia

In this study, the participants were split into four groups with the split between people using computer exercises; memory exercises, reasoning exercises, and a group that had no changes. It found that those who did the computer exercises had reduced the possibility of dementia by 29%, while the memory exercise and strategy based exercise group had no difference shown.

Why Would 3D Games Work?

According to scientists, the three dimensional aspects of video games make those playing the games more aware of their spatial environment, and also force players to create and remember cognitive maps. The playing of video games therefor gives the brain a boost to make it work harder, and stops the memory from worsening. With 3D tech being applied to everything from online pokies to puzzle games, there are many different options for people to try, and to see if they can improve one retain their brain function. This kind of gaming is thought to improve the brain’s ability to change, and to maintain the actual plasticity of the part of the brain used in perception, thinking and decision-making.

Though scientists are just becoming aware of the positive effects of three-dimensional video gaming, and the study was done on a small selection of adults, the possibilities are only just beginning to be explored.

These scientists urge caution, and have still got more research to conduct, but the potential of using computer games to increase the brain’s functioning is a new and exciting possibility for the future, and is a step forward in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer-type diseases.