Puzzle games could boost memory in older people, study finds

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Have you ever wondered if playing games can help keep your mind sharp?

Researchers at the University of York embarked on a mission to discover the relationship between playing games and memory abilities.

The results? Seniors who enjoy digital puzzle games have memories as sharp as people in their 20s!

Memory and Growing Old

As we grow older, our ability to remember things starts to get a little rusty. Think of it like a car: when it’s brand new, it runs smoothly and efficiently.

But as time goes on, and it’s been on quite a few rides, it might not run as well as it used to. That’s how our memory works.

Between the ages of 20 and 30, our memory is at its best, working like that brand new car. After that, it starts to slow down.

In the past, some researchers believed that activities, like playing games, could give our memory a “tune-up.”

But they weren’t sure which games were best for which age group. The University of York team decided to dig deeper into this idea.

Different Games for Different Ages

The researchers got both younger and older folks together and let them play their favorite digital games.

Meanwhile, they also had them try to remember pictures even when there were other things happening around them. This was like trying to remember your shopping list while a fun song plays on the radio.

Here’s what they found:

Action Games: Young people often play action games where they need to move quickly and keep track of lots of things.

The researchers first thought these games were great for improving memory. But they were surprised! These fast-paced games didn’t seem to offer any special memory benefits for younger players.

Strategy Games: These are games where players need to think, plan, and solve problems. Younger players who enjoyed these games had better memory and attention. But older players? Not so much.

The researchers wondered if maybe the older players were playing simpler strategy games. After all, if you only practice easy piano songs, you won’t become a concert pianist!

Puzzle Games: Now, this was the most interesting part. Older players who loved puzzle games had memories as good as young folks in their 20s! But younger players who played these games struggled a bit when trying to focus.

Why Puzzle Games Work for Seniors

Puzzle games require patience, concentration, and a bit of brainpower. For seniors, these games offer the perfect blend of challenge and fun.

They help them keep their memory skills in tip-top shape, even when they’re faced with distractions.

Dr. Joe Cutting, one of the researchers, used the example of trying to remember a street name while a noisy dog barks nearby. Even with such distractions, seniors who played puzzle games were better at remembering things.

But it wasn’t all good news. Seniors who stuck to strategy games sometimes forgot what they’d learned if they got distracted. And younger players, if they played only puzzle games, found it harder to pay attention.

Looking Ahead

The team at the University of York believes there’s a lot more to explore in this area.

They’re curious about why different games have different effects depending on a person’s age. They also wonder if our brains change the way they store memories as we get older.

But for now, if you have a grandparent or an elderly neighbor, maybe recommend they play a digital puzzle game now and then. It’s fun, and who knows? They might just surprise you with their sharp memory!

If you care about brain health, please read studies about common high blood pressure drug that could help repair brain blood vessels, and COVID-related brain damage more likely in these people.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about low-carb diet that could help reverse brain aging, and results showing two common habits can make your brain age fast.

The study was published in Heliyon.

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