Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Technology

Video games bring new life to old brains

Thursday, Oct 03, 2013 - 03:22

Oct. 4 - Researchers in California are developing video games aimed at helping older people preserve their cognitive abilities as they age. The games are designed to improve communication between different parts of the brain, boosting memory function and the ability to stay focused. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Ann Linsley was never a big fan of technology, she didn't like computers and video games were definitely out of the question.. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANN LINSLEY, 65, TRIAL PARTICIPANT, SAYING: "My grandson tried to teach to teach me one once and I was still on ground zero with him (laughs). He didn't think I was teachable." But today, Ann is learning all about video games. A few years ago, Ann began to notice that she'd lost some of her mental sharpness - she was forgetting things and losing focus easily. These changes scared her. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANN LINSLEY, 65, TRIAL PARTICIPANT, SAYING: "I always prided myself on the ability to remember the smallest of facts and put things together and be able to do all of that and that was kind of going away. I think partially because I wasn't using it every day but I was talking to my friends and we were all having the same kind of things." According to Adam Gazzaley, a professor of neuroscience at UCSF, Ann and her friends were experiencing symptoms commonly associated with an ageing brain. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ADAM GAZZALEY, PROFESSOR OF NEUROSCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO, SAYING: "We are still teasing apart what is going on to actually cause it, but we know that it seems to be a breakdown with how the front part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is kind of the command centre in charge of cognitive control in a lot of ways, that its ability to communicate with the rest of the brain seems to be less efficient." But Gazzaley says the decline might be reversible - with video games. Inspired by studies describing cognitive improvements in children who've been exposed to immersive video games, he developed a driving game designed to stimulate the brain's ability to multi-task. The player needs to keep the car in the middle of the road while simultaneously clicking whenever a sign appears. Gazzaley says that as older volunteers played the game, their mental dexterity improved...a lot. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ADAM GAZZALEY, PROFESSOR OF NEUROSCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO, SAYING: "While they played the game in lab both before and after we recorded their brain activity with EEG which looks at electrical activity in the brain and what we find that right when a sign comes up while you are driving there is this burst of activity from the front part of the brain, from the prefrontal cortex which is greater in younger adults than in older adults before they train but after they train they improve this brain activity measure to young adult levels." ..And that improvement could translate into an increased ability to retain memory and stay focused, although Gazzaley says it will take more research to prove it. For Ann Linsley that research can't come soon enough…even though she says she still doesn't like computers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANN LINSLEY, 65, TRIAL PARTICIPANT, SAYING: "I think technology is a double edged sword, obviously. But if it could be for good and it can help us, because we do talk about it in my age group. We're sitting there going 'ok did you put the bread in the freezer today or did you put it in the oven or did you put it where it belongs. And that is something that can hopefully help us. And we are going to demand it actually, it's not just a hope, it s a demand. Something has got to come to help us." Adam Gazzaley and his team plan to do just that. They are in the process of preparing broader studies aimed at designing new games for baby boomers like Ann. He says that keeping a sharp mind when you're old may be as simple as playing a game.

Video games bring new life to old brains

Thursday, Oct 03, 2013 - 03:22

Top News »

Money »

S&P 500 to new record on improving economy S&P 500 to new record on improving economy

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (2:31)

Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark

Mon, Aug 25, 2014 - (2:35)

S&P falls back from record high S&P falls back from record high

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (1:35)

S&P 500 closes at new high S&P 500 closes at new high

Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - (1:24)

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Images of August Images of August

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (1:00)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)