Playing computer games has traditionally been seen as a young person's activity but an increasing number of older people are 'silver surfers' and a recent study has shown that playing video games can improve cognition in this group. Researchers from the University of Illinois studied 40 older adults in their 60s and 70s. Half of them received training in a video game called Rise of Nations where players have to make decisions on resource allocation to feed and employ people, maintain their military and expand their population in an imaginary country; the other half received no training. Before, during and after the training both groups of participants took a series of cognitive tests. The video gamers became better, and faster, at switching between tasks. Their working memory was improved and their reasoning ability was enhanced. Their short-term memory of visual cues was also better than the control group's. Those who performed better on the game also performed better on the cognitive tests. The results are significant as previous research has shown that training people on a particular task improved their ability to complete the task itself, without being transferable to other situations.
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