Puzzle games can improve memory in older people – study

Puzzle games can improve memory in older people – study

Scientists have found that digital puzzle games can help improve memory in the elderly.

Because aging negatively affects “working memory,” researchers tested whether certain types of games are associated with improved memory, Medical News Today reports.

Scientists from the University of York in England conducted a study to find out how playing different types of video games affects memory in young and old people.


Research participants were offered a test during which they had to perform various tasks that required good memory and concentration.

Older adults who played digital puzzle games were found to be able to concentrate better than those who preferred a different type of video game or did not play at all.

“Puzzles have an amazing ability to support the mental abilities of the elderly to the point that their memory and attention spans were the same as those of 20-year-olds who did not play puzzles.” – said the lead author of the study, Dr. Joe Cutting, who works at the Department of Computer Science at York University.

At the same time, young people who play strategy games had better “working memory” compared to those who never practiced it.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Heliyon.


Photo: Moyo Studio/GettyImages

According to the definition of the US National Library of Medicine (National Library of MedicineTrusted Source), working memory is “a small amount of information that can be held in the head and used when performing cognitive tasks.”

For example, working memory allows a person to keep instructions in memory while performing various tasks, to ignore distracting factors. Such memory deteriorates with age.

Scientists from the University of York believe that the type of video games people play can affect memory.

They saw better performance in older people who played digital puzzle games and in younger people who played strategy games.

482 people participated in the study. Most of them (297) are women. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 81 years: the scientists included them in the younger group (18-30 years) or in the older group (60-81 years).

Participants talked about their gaming habits. The researchers took into account all digital games, including arcade, computer, console and mobile games.

The main types of games were highlighted:

  • action;
  • strategy;
  • puzzle.

Participants had to report which games they played, how often and for how long. Then they took an online working memory test.

Young people who played strategy games demonstrated greater working memory compared to young people who played action games.

This surprised the researchers, as previous studies have shown that playing action games correlates with higher mindfulness scores.

“It appears that the strategic elements of games, such as planning and problem solving, stimulate better memory and attention in young people.

However, we don’t see the same effect in older people, and more research is needed to understand why.” – said study co-author Fiona McNab from York University’s Department of Psychology.

At the same time, it was the puzzle games that proved to be the most useful for the older participants.

For example, older adults who play digital puzzles can ignore distractions better than other older age groups.

It will be recalled that scientists previously found out that using the Internet during the day can reduce the risk of developing dementia in the elderly.

Read also: How long can people really live?

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