For many people in their golden years, the digital world that we currently all live in can be overwhelming and almost impossible to navigate. It seems that there’s a device, app or downloadable software program for almost anything these days, and while some can indeed be unnecessary, there’s no denying that certain aspects of digital technology can make significant improvements to a 50+ lifestyle.
Amazingly, scientists and researchers have begun to prove that there is a direct link between improved brain function in over 55s and video games. Yes, taking part in the favourite pastime of millennials could improve your quality of life. When the human brain ages and stops learning new things, the grey matter begins to atrophy. Playing games, however, can challenge a brain and opens up new neural pathways that offer a host of benefits related to mental and physical well-being
Just last year, a comprehensive study was conducted by three professors from Canada’s Universite de Montreal — Gregory West, Isabelle Peretz and Sylvie Belleville — in conjunction with experts from the Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Douglas Hospital Research Centre.
A group of participants aged between 55 and 75 was asked to play the platform game “Super Mario 64” for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and the results were surprising. The study found that grey matter volume increased in the areas of the brain that are responsible for spatial and episodic memory (the hippocampus) and balance and muscular coordination (the cerebellum). The participants’ short-term memory had also improved, and they all reported increased feelings of overall well-being.
Similarly, back in 2013, a study by North Carolina State University that tracked the gaming habits of 140 people over 63 years of age found that playing a game at least once a week had its benefits. Those that regularly played games, such as platform games or puzzle apps, reported higher levels of positive emotions and increased social well-being compared to those who only played occasionally.
Indeed, there are lots of other benefits that can be associated with regular gameplay, not least that it’s an entertaining and enjoyable activity. According to a report released by U.K. newspaper The Sun earlier this year, 1 in 5 over 55s in the British Isles are logging on to sites like Bingo.com
to play this classic game over the internet, and they aren’t alone. Bingo websites and apps belong to an area of the gaming industry known as iGaming, which is global in its reach. Communities can build up quickly online between players with shared interests, and online bingo platforms, in particular, feature member forums that enable social interaction between people on opposite sides of the world.
Findings on the link between digital gameplay and cognitive function in an aging brain, such as those of the North Carolina State University and the Canadian research team, are even driving further research into areas like Alzheimer’s prevention
. So, even though it may seem like a frivolous activity, spending a few hours a week interacting with gaming technology could change the way you live as well as think.