Older adults demonstrated better multitasking skills and other cognitive functions after playing a custom-designed video game, according to a recent UCSF study. After months of playing a driving game called NeuroRacer, seniors were better at remembering information and paying attention. One of the study’s co-authors joins us to talk about the potential use of video games as therapeutic tools — both to improve cognitive skills and treat mental disorders like ADHD, depression and dementia.

In the NeuroRacer game, players are supposed to click a button when a distracting green road sign pops up. (Video: The Gazzaley Lab)

Adam Gazzaley, co-author of the study, director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at UCSF and co-founder of the company Akili Interactive Labs, which is developing the next generation of the NeuroRacer game

  • Ron Arons

    When will NeuorRacer be available to the public. Alternatively, what video games or other brain strengthening software / tools would you recommend for use by someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Thx

  • NSA is Unamerican

    I believe that when older Americans embrace the logically fallacious reasoning presented in the US mainstream news media, like on Fox and even to an extent on NPR, they are harming their minds by undermining precisely the functions that this researcher is focusing on.

    Giving in to dumbed-down propaganda and being a conformist undermines brain health.

    Older Americans (and younger ones) need to “Question more”, which is the motto of the RT news channel which encourages critical thinking by employing American political dissidents.

    • bernice

      So how do you define what is propaganda? This seems like a slippery slope.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Great observation. Propaganda is when someone/group tells you what to think/believe VS being encouraged to look at all sides and make ones own conclusions.

      Sadly so much of what we call media is based on ratings rather than presenting various views so the viewer can reach their own conclusions.

      Will note that unlike average ‘talk radio’, and cable ‘news’ channels, NPR and Forum on KQED at least strive to present various views, via mature discussions.

      As for keeping the brain healthy as one ages, I find that outdoor activities that require quick brain responses (kayaking, skiing, bike riding, running, tennis etc) are a better than playing video games because reality is involved.

  • bernice

    How does one participate in these types of study?

    Also consider a game that has other settings than driving, such as shopping.

  • Dr. Gazzaley, please consider an early release of this game. It won’t harm anyone and could help some people. Research and publication can continue, but some of us don’t have much time left to wait for definitive results.

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