'NeuroRacer' Game Improves Multitasking Abilities

Dennis Faas's picture

Video games are blamed for a lot of things -- exposing kids to violence, encouraging antisocial behaviour, and generally 'rotting' peoples' brains. But a new study finds that a computer game called 'NeuroRacer' can actually improve neurological (or brain) activity.

In fact, the game is apparently having the most positive impact on players over age 60.

NeuroRacer was specially designed for the Gazzaley Lab at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). There, neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and a team of researchers have been using the game to test its impact on the neurological activity of older adults.

Computer Game Tests Multitasking Abilities

As the name suggests, NeuroRacer is a racing game. Players must react to changes in the highway while picking out road signs. In effect, it gives players very little time to perform multiple activities. (Source: youtube.com)

Recently, Gazzaley and his team tested thirty adults of various ages. They used NeuroRacer to study the participants' multitasking skills as measured by the game.

The team found that older adults struggled the most with multitasking challenges.

To examine this issue in closer detail, the Gazzaley team initiated a second study involving 46 participants between the ages of 60 and 85. The participants then took part in a four-week training period that involved many sessions of NeuroRacer.

When the training was complete the neuroscientists monitored participants by focusing on their ability to carry out multiple tasks.

Gaming Dramatically Improves Older Adults' Multitasking Abilities

The finding: the older adults who participated in the training got higher scores in multitasking challenges than 20-year-olds who had not engaged in the NeuroRacer training.

Even six months after the training completed many of the older adults who participated in the study retained their multitasking skills.

"These findings highlight ... how a custom-designed video game can be used to assess cognitive abilities across the lifespan, evaluate underlying neural mechanisms, and serve as a powerful tool for cognitive enhancement," the Gazzaley team said. (Source: cnet.com)

It remains unclear if a racing game not specially designed for this kind of research could have a positive impact on the development of multitasking skills.

Rate this article: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)