Your parents may have told you video games would “rot your brain,” but they’ve been put to good use helping cancer survivors improve working memory.
A study has demonstrated that video games can help improve working memory and other cognitive skills in childhood cancer survivors. The study, conducted out of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, could bring about big changes in the way the late effects of cancer treatment is managed.
It should be noted that these weren’t any ordinary video games used in the study. Instead, they were intensive computer-based cognitive training sessions disguised as video games. The 30 to 45 minute sessions helped improve working memory, attention, and brain processing speed – all of which can be damaged by cancer treatments such as chemo-therapy.
Heather Conklin, Ph.D., who helped conduct the study, said:
“These results suggest that computerized cognitive training may help fill a void in management of cognitive late effects that impact quality of life for childhood cancer survivors, such as the likelihood they will complete school and live independently. While medication and therapist-led interventions have shown some benefit for select survivors, online training marks a significant advance by giving survivors convenient access to an effective intervention.”
Certain types of video games have long been suspected of possessing the ability to improve cognitive faculties. Learning software and “brain training” games are popular among children and the elderly as a way to keep their minds sharp and engaged. Although the effectiveness of these games has been called into question, it seems that the right game played under the right circumstances can indeed be an effective way to improve memory, concentration, and overall brain function.
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