Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Training via Video Game Shown to Boost Kids' Brain Power

Training via Video Game Shown to Boost Kids' Brain Power

06/13/11

MONDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Playing a memory-straining video game can help children solve problems more easily, a goal that can be difficult to achieve through so-called cognitive training, a new study suggests.

The research doesn't suggest that ordinary video games have this kind of power. But it does show how a particular type of training can boost brain skills even months later, said study author Susanne M. Jaeggi, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.

"You have to train, and you have to train well," Jaeggi said. "Effects don't come for free. There is effort involved, just like in physical training when you need to run and not just walk in order to improve your fitness level."

The researchers looked specifically at attention and what's called "working memory" in children. Jaeggi said that refers to temporary storage in the brain that's used for such things as solving math problems. For example, if you're solving a multiplication problem like 34 times 7, you need to go through several steps -- 7 times 4, then 7 times 3 -- and briefly remember the answers, she explained.

"If information is lost during this process due to working memory limitations, then the task cannot be completed," Jaeggi said. "In general, working memory capacity is crucial for our general ability to acquire knowledge and learn new skills, and it has been shown that working memory is even better at predicting scholastic achievement than measures of intelligence."

In their study, Jaeggi and her fellow researchers tried to stretch the working memory of 62 elementary and middle school students by having them play a video game in which they had to remember the previous locations of frogs on lily pads. The game became harder as children became better at it, but easier if they struggled.

Those who improved the most did the best on tests three months later, even though tests given before the training did not show that those students had any advantage over the other children, according to the study, published online in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jaeggi said it's possible, but not proven, that the brain training via the video game could help students later in life because those who score well on tests tend to do well in school and on the job later in life.

She added that the tests show that the students "improved one very important part of IQ with our training."

Brain researcher Dr. Torkel Klingberg, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that other studies of techniques designed to boost working memory have shown similar effects, and even bigger ones.

And Adrian M. Owen, a cognitive neuroscience researcher who holds the Canada Excellence Research Chair at the University of Western Ontario, said that his previous research had debunked claims that commercial "brain training" systems improve cognitive powers in adults. But, he said, the new study is different: It looked at children, not adults, and examined intensive training in one task.

So if one specially designed a video game can help boost the brain power of some children, might all video games do the same?

No such luck, Jaeggi said. Strategy games might help boost intelligence, she said, but shoot-'em-up games don't seem to do so.

More information

Harvard University offers more on the brain.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse First in Area to Perform Single-Site Hysterectomy
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >