As people age, one of the worries is memory decline. While forgetfulness can be a normal part of ageing, cognitive decline such as memory loss has been a top health concern. A new study has found that playing digital puzzle games can improve older adults’ memory and concentration.
The study by researchers from the University of York involved adults aged 60 as well as young people. The findings showed that older adults who play digital puzzle games had a greater ability to ignore irrelevant distractions. Notably, those who played strategy games did not show the same improvements in memory or concentration, according to the university’s press statement.
As humans age, their mental abilities go through a decline, specifically, the ability to remember a myriad of things at a time, which is known as working memory. It peaks between the ages of 20 and 30 and slows declines as people age. Previous studies have also shown that how we hold information in the brain changes as we get older, according to the statement. Hence, for the research, the researchers examined the impact of different types of stimulation such as gaming.
Previous research has focused on action games as a way of helping memory and attention but the new analysis shows that these elements do not impact younger adults significantly, according to the researchers. Instead, the strategy elements such as planning and problem-solving help in improving memory and attention in young people. However, this is not seen in older adults and currently, there is a lack of research to understand the reason.
“Puzzle games for older people had this surprising ability to support mental capabilities to the extent that memory and concentration levels were the same as a 20 year-olds who had not played puzzle games,” Joe Cutting, from the University of York’s Department of Computer Science, said in the statement.
The researchers observed a contrast between the participants of different age groups. Older people were more likely to forget elements when distracted if they only played strategy games, and young people could not focus their attention well if they played only puzzle games.
Recently, another study linked improvement in memory with puzzles. In July, a new study by researchers from Monash University showed that older participants who regularly engaged in activities solving puzzles were less likely to develop dementia. The researchers said that such activities could support prolonged cognitive health.