Research is emerging which hypothesizes video games may help seniors retain cognitive function
Alzheimer’s is a horribly debilitating disease with no known cure. However, scientists are working on a video game would could delay the symptoms of, or prevent, Alzheimer’s.
Research data shown at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in the middle of 2016 suggested a certain type of video game could decrease the risk of dementia symptoms by half.
The role video games could play in fighting Alzheimer’s disease
A quick disclaimer: playing Call of Duty or Halo is not likely to help decrease the symptoms of dementia—these games are good for those trigger-happy gamers who like mindless violence as a way to switch off and ignore the world for a while.
The type of video game being discussed here is called speed-of-processing task: a cognitive training program that 2,800 people took as part of a study. The average age of the participants was 74, and the scientists tracked them for 10 years. The ten-year study’s objective was to hopefully find out how the cognitive training could impact the functioning of older healthy patients.
Discovering a video game that could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s
The ten-year study had four groups, one was a control group that did nothing. Another group played the speed-of-processing task and the final two groups took a memory or reasoning class.
A paper from the test was published in 2014 showed cognitive training could help with certain tasks like driving or balancing a checkbook.
In July of 2016, findings showed that of the group who played the game 10-14 hours of the game over ten years were 48% less likely to have developed Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia; this was compared those who didn’t have any brain training.
The harsh reality of Alzheimer’s research
The results sound promising. 48% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s from playing a video game for 14 hours over ten years! What’s not to get excited about? Well, the nature of Alzheimer’s is that no one wants to get their hopes up—especially the people responsible for treating and hopefully one day curing it.
At the moment, the news that computerized training could one day have significant preventive effects on Alzheimer’s is exciting enough. It’s given scientists a launching pad for further research and study.
Even researchers who were closely involved in the ten-year study have said, yes, these findings are good because we now know training and exercising cognitive function can mitigate the possibility of Alzheimer’s.
What researchers also know is they are a long way off from claiming they have found a cure to one of the most devastating, destructive diseases known to man.
Video games and the future of Alzheimer’s treatment
The possibility of apps and online games to improve cognitive ability and so lessen the chances of Alzheimer’s is now very real, and could soon—hopefully—be an answer to a devastating problem.