Brain Games: Do they help? Or is it just a game?
Written by Gurleen Khaira
We have all seen game ads that claim to improve our memory and brain functions. In particular, many games propose that they can slow down dementia, however, some may dismiss this as a marketing ploy. We delved into the subject to find out if there was any truth behind these claims and found some pretty convincing research and studies. So, if you want to know how games can help your brain function, keep reading to find out!
There seems to be a consensus around the facts that puzzles and games which provoke problem-solving can aid brain activity. The logic behind this is that completing puzzles increases connections between neurons and therefore increases mental speed and processing ability. Even more significant, research has found that completing puzzles can decrease the amount of brain cell damage in Alzheimer’s patients and encourages the strengthening of neural pathways.
Many games position themselves towards dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in hopes of preventing the disease from occurring or slowing down the process. But can a game actually help with these conditions? Well, a study conducted by the Alzheimer’s society seems to be quite promising. The organization created a bundle of games that challenged a person’s problem solving and reasoning ability. This bundle was given to 7000 participants over the age of 50. After six months of playing these games, it was found that participants had better brain ability as their reasoning heightened and the ability to remember words had increased. Specifically looking at those over the age of 60, the study found that these participants noted an improvement in their daily routine with activities such as managing their budget, shopping, and getting public transport. So, perhaps some games can help our memory and brain function.
Now, this may sound absurd, but one game that has gained the attention of many researchers is Super Mario 64. This 3D game has been shown to increase grey matter in the hippocampus area of the brain. This region is responsible for spatial and episodic memory, and 3D games are said to be particularly useful for these types of memories. One study asked participants aged between 55-75 to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes per day for five days a week over six months. At the end of the study, an MRI scan was conducted and found that participants who followed this routine saw an increase in grey matter in the hippocampus and an improvement in short term memory. Now, you may be wondering what the connection between grey matter and increased brain activity is. Basically, grey matter is responsible for processing information in the brain so more grey matter means more information processing. So, for those of you who still have to write your letter to Santa, Super Mario 64 may be a good present to ask for.
How can MindMate help? The MindMate app consists of many games, specifically those articulated towards dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. These games challenge your problem solving, mental speed and attention, and can help slow down cognitive decline in those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.