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Study: Physically-active video games (‘exergames’) boost cognition more than physical activity alone

Active gam­ing is good for brain health and mem­o­ry, finds study (Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­ches­ter release):

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 phys­i­cal activ­i­ty 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 cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing across 926 peo­ple…

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…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.”

The Study

The effect of active video games on cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing in clin­i­cal and non-clin­i­cal pop­u­la­tions: A meta-analy­sis of ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­als (Neu­ro­science and Biobe­hav­ioral Reviews)

  • Abstract: Phys­i­cal­ly-active video games (‘exergames’) have recent­ly gained pop­u­lar­i­ty for leisure and enter­tain­ment pur­pos­es. Using exergames to com­bine phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and cog­ni­tive­ly-demand­ing tasks may offer a nov­el strat­e­gy to improve cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing. There­fore, this sys­tem­at­ic review and meta-analy­sis was per­formed to estab­lish effects of exergames on over­all cog­ni­tion and spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive domains in clin­i­cal and non-clin­i­cal pop­u­la­tions. We iden­ti­fied 17 eli­gi­ble RCTs with cog­ni­tive out­come data for 926 par­tic­i­pants. Ran­dom-effects meta-analy­ses found exergames sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved glob­al cog­ni­tion (g = 0.436, 95% CI = 0.18–0.69, p = 0.001). Sig­nif­i­cant effects still exist­ed when exclud­ing wait­list-only con­trolled stud­ies, and when com­par­ing to phys­i­cal activ­i­ty inter­ven­tions. Fur­ther­more, ben­e­fits of exergames where observed for both healthy old­er adults and clin­i­cal pop­u­la­tions with con­di­tions asso­ci­at­ed with neu­rocog­ni­tive impair­ments (all p < 0.05). Domain-spe­cif­ic analy­ses found exergames improved exec­u­tive func­tions, atten­tion­al pro­cess­ing and visu­ospa­tial skills. The find­ings present the first meta-ana­lyt­ic evi­dence for effects of exergames on cog­ni­tion. Future research must estab­lish which patient/treatment fac­tors influ­ence effi­ca­cy of exergames, and explore neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal mech­a­nisms of action.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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