In our culture video games generally get a bad rap. Many people associate them the younger generations, as well as violence and time wasting. However, all of this focus on the negative has kept many people from seeing their potential benefits. According to new research by North Carolina State University, video games can improve the mental well-being of the elderly. The study consisted of 140 adults with an average age of about 77.5 years old grouped into three categories, non-gamers, occasional gamers, and frequent gamers (played at least once per week). These adults were then tested across six categories of mental health: Well-Being, Positive Effect, Negative Effect, Depression, Social Functioning and Self-Reported Health. In every category except for Negative Effect and Depression, both occasional gamers and frequent gamers scored considerably higher. Both forms of gamers experienced less Depression and Negative Effects than did the non-gamers. According to Dr. Jason Allaire, one of the main researchers behind the study, these games can be things like Solitaire or Bejeweled, and not fully fledged Xbox, PS3 or Wii games. This means that a large number of people can have access to these benefits, at a relatively low cost. In addition, video games have been found to have other positive effects on people, such as speeding up decision making and increasing awareness of surroundings. These studies are only the beginning of larger effort to examine the potential benefits of video games on people. Maybe video games aren’t that bad after all?
A recent study released by the University of Kentucky in Lexington aimed to better understand why “being fluent in more than one language protects against age-related cognitive diseases.”
Researchers used fMRI’s to compare the brains of monolinguals to life-long bilinguals, “LLBL”, (people fluent in two languages since the age of at least 10) during various activities. Of the 110 participants, they found that mostly all monolinguals and LLBL preformed the same on tests that required simple memory, however on tests which required them to switch between activities, the older LLBL were much faster and quicker to respond than the older monolinguals.
The researchers explained that the results they saw from the older generation of monolinguals and LLBL during the two main testing categories (simple memory and switching tasks), were about the same to the results of the younger generation that they tested in a different study. They concluded that the older LLBL’s experienced less activation in several frontal brain regions linked with effortful processing, meaning that the “older bilinguals used their brain more efficiently than the older monolinguals“.
The scientists also explained that they are not sure if learning a language later in life will give a person the same cognitive benefits when they are older compared to a person who is a LLBL. They are also unsure if it’s the “knowledge of two languages that leads to benefits in aging or if there is some underlying characteristics that bilinguals have” which allows them to be more neurally efficient.
Although researchers still have a lot to learn about the increased neural efficiency found in bilinguals, this study made a vast contribution to the understanding of “the cognitive advantage of bilinguals at an old age.”
Read more at: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/08/lifelong-bilinguals-may-have-more-efficient-brains/?hpt=he_bn2