ageing

Popular video games can slow down ageing and give a boost to the brains of older people, according to a new report.

For those between 55 and 75 years old, 3d platform games such as super Mario may help prevent mild cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s disease, according express.co.uk.

The findings were made in Canadian study by psychology professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville and Isabelle Peretz of Montreal University.

Published in PLOS ONE, it was done in cooperation with the Institute universities de geriatrie de Montreal (IUGM), Benjamin Rich Zendel of Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Veronique Bohbot of Montreal's Douglas Hospital Research Centre.

In two separate studies, in 2014 and 2017, young adults in their twenties were asked to play 3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms such as Super Mario 64.

Findings showed that the gray matter in their hippocampus increased after training.

The hippocampus is the region of the brain primarily associated with spatial and episodic memory, a key factor in long-term cognitive health.

The gray matter it contains acts as a marker for neurological disorders that can occur over time, including mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's.

Professor West and his colleagues wanted to see if the results could be replicated among healthy seniors.

The research team recruited 33 people, ages 55 to 75, who were randomly assigned to three separate groups.

Participants were instructed to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, take piano lessons (for the first time in their life) with the same frequency and in the same sequence, or not perform any particular task.

The experiment lasted six months and was conducted in the participants' homes, where the consoles and pianos, provided by West's team, were installed.

According to the MRI test results, only the participants in the video-game cohort saw increases in gray matter volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum.

"The good news is that we can reverse those effects and increase volume by learning something new, and games like Super Mario 64, which activate the hippocampus, seem to hold some potential in that respect.

Professor Belleville added, "These findings can also be used to drive future research on Alzheimer's, since there is a link between the volume of the hippocampus and the risk of developing the disease."

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