Seniors Part of Study To Improve Cognitive Skills

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor made headlines in late February 2013 when he stated The National Science Foundation wasted more than $1 million on seniors, paying them to play the online, virtual-world game World of Warcraft and studying the effect it had on their brains. It was, said Cantor, another example of wasteful government spending.

A grant from the National Science Foundation was awarded to North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech; they were interested in studying whether playing computer games could slow mental decline, and if so, whether games had common elements that could be incorporated into cognition-enhancing “brain games.” Researchers have long wondered whether memory games and problem-solving games could be beneficial to seniors.

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More than 200 seniors were tested for cognitive abilities before and after playing a spatial puzzle game to see if playing produced any change. The findings will be shared with Georgia Tech experts, who will incorporate the data into new game development focused on helping seniors retain or improve their cognitive skills. But according to the National Science Foundation’s abstract on the grant, World of Warcraft was not part of the experiment.

Interested in improving your own reasoning skills, memory and processing speed? Experts suggest you play games, work on crosswords, brain teasers and puzzles, and pick up a new hobby or craft.

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