Active video gaming is good for brain health and memory, finds study

May 3, 2017
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Video games which involve physical activity significantly boost our brain health as we get older, according to new research led by University of Manchester experts.

Study authors Dr Emma Stanmore and Joseph Firth say systems that use for gaming such as Wii and Xbox Kinect can boost brain functioning in people with neurological impairment, as well as keeping our minds healthy and active as we age.

In the first ever analysis of all published evidence, the researchers aggregated data from 17 clinical trials examining the effects of active gaming on across 926 people.

It is published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, and was a collaboration between The University of Manchester, King's College London, KU Leuven and ETH Zurich.

Joseph Firth said: "As people age, their brain functioning, such as memory, concentration and spatial awareness naturally decline.

"Various neurological conditions such Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, , and dementia can also impede people's cognitive functioning and reduce their ability to function day to day.

"Recently, there has been much interest in using in the rehabilitation of these conditions, and to promote healthy aging.

"So we were fascinated to learn that the available evidence shows how these sort of games can significantly improve overall cognitive functioning, and is particularly beneficial for attention, executive functioning and visuospatial abilities.

"Physically-active video games have, according to our research, greater impact on brain functioning than regular physical activity alone – suggesting that their benefits are more than just moving around."

Dr Stanmore has just completed a in 18 sites in Manchester and Glasgow.

The trial showed that MIRA games improved balance, pain and fear of falling after 12 weeks' use.

She said: "Our research shows the potential of active video games that can be used independently at home and remotely supervised by therapists .

"The brain benefits may be because these activities are physically demanding, while also requiring concentration and cognitive effort, resulting in positive effects for body and brain.

"We hope this research will encourage the NHS and social services to take up active gaming as part of their support packages- as some are already starting to do."

Explore further: Exercise can tackle symptoms of schizophrenia

More information: Emma Stanmore et al. The effect of active video games on cognitive functioning in clinical and non-clinical populations: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.04.011

Related Stories

Exercise can tackle symptoms of schizophrenia

August 12, 2016

Aerobic exercise can significantly help people coping with the long-term mental health condition schizophrenia, according to a new study from University of Manchester researchers.

What types of video games improve brain function?

October 1, 2015

From "brain games" designed to enhance mental fitness, to games used to improve real-world problems, to games created purely to entertain, today's video games can have a variety of potential impacts on the brain. A new article ...

Recommended for you

Computations of visual motion in the brain

May 22, 2017

Botond Roska and his group at the FMI have elucidated how the retina and the visual cortex work together in visual motion perception. They found that cortical cells, which respond preferentially to backward image motion, ...

Understanding the architecture of our 'second brain'

May 19, 2017

Scientists have made an important step in understanding the organisation of nerve cells embedded within the gut that control its function - a discovery that could give insight into the origin of common gastrointestinal diseases, ...

Flies the key to studying the causes of dementia

May 19, 2017

A research team from the University of Plymouth, University of Southampton and the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Center, Vari, Greece, have studied two structurally-similar proteins in the adult brain and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.