The brain is an extremely complex large organ. It is constantly learning new skills and appears to have the ability to change its structure over a life time, but it is susceptible to disease especially to degenerative disease. Research published in ‘Nature’ states scientists from the University of California have developed a computer video game which has been developed to help repair cognitive decline in elderly people. The game entitled ‘NeuroRacer’ aims to improve cognitive control as well as multitasking. During the game the player must simultaneously complete two tasks; pressing a button when a certain symbol appears and use a joystick to control a car on a road.
174 adults aged 20 – 79 played the 3D game for 1 hour, 3 times a week over a 1 month period. Participants aged 60+ years improved their multitasking abilities and memory by playing the game, it was reported that they found it easier to sustain attention. Furthermore the results lasted for 6 months post experiment despite the game no longer being played.
From the game playing MRI scans revealed higher activity levels in the areas of the brain responsible for problem solving and complex thought. However Professor of cognitive neuroscience Adam Gazzaley stresses that “this will not be used as a consumer product, but as a medical diagnostic therapeutic tool”.
Sorry this does not seem to be the excuse you needed to spend hours playing video games. The main point is that you need to keep the brain active by doing things that involve a level of problem solving, there seems to be more and more evidence showing a stimulated brain is a healthy brain.