Can Training in a Real-Time Strategy Video Game Attenuate Cognitive Decline in Older Adults?

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Declines in various cognitive abilities, particularly executive control functions, are observed in older adults. An important goal of cognitive training is to slow or reverse these age-related declines. However, opinion is divided in the literature regarding whether cognitive training can engender transfer to a variety of cognitive skills in older adults. In the current study, the authors trained older adults in a real-time strategy video game for 23.5 hr in an effort to improve their executive functions. A battery of cognitive tasks, including tasks of executive control and visuospatial skills, were assessed before, during, and after video-game training. The trainees improved significantly in the measures of game performance. They also improved significantly more than the control participants in executive control functions, such as task switching, working memory, visual short-term memory, and reasoning. Individual differences in changes in game performance were correlated with improvements in task switching. The study has implications for the enhancement of executive control processes of older adults.

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