Video Games Are Brain Games

Challenge


It might seem like video games are just for kids, but think again! There are plenty of games designed with adults in mind.

Video games aren’t just a fun way to pass time, either. In studies, video games have been shown to improve older adults' physical balance, mobility, and executive function.

You know about balance and mobility, but what is executive function? This term refers to your ability to coordinate your cognitive abilities and the behaviors that go along with them. It’s your ability to plan and juggle multiple tasks.

Most times you use executive function without realizing it. When you grab an oven mitt while opening the oven door, you’re planning to take out a hot pan without burning your hand. That’s executive function.

Without executive function, you would:

  • Have trouble organizing
  • Have trouble starting a task
  • Be unable to multitask
  • Have trouble finding words to communicate ideas
  • Be unable to plan for the future
  • Lack empathy

It’s not too hard to see how playing games on your phone or tablet can help sharpen your executive function. Whether you’re playing Candy Crush or Tsum Tsum, you’ve got to plan out your next few steps before you make them.

Download a few new games and set a timer to remind you to play one for 10 minutes a day. You can play a game while waiting in line, taking a train or waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning. You’ll be training your brain and scoring points at the same time.

References

  • Zhang, F., & Kaufman, D. (2016). Physical and Cognitive Impacts of Digital Games on Older Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Applied Gerontology: The Official Journal of the Southern Gerontological Society, 35(11), 1189–1210. doi: 10.1177/0733464814566678