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Video games can help improve mental cognition in the elderly, study says

A recent study suggests that video games can help improve the cognitive abilities of elderly patients, WebMD reports.

The study, published in journal PLoS ONE earlier this month, analyzed 681 patients ages 50 and up. Participants were required to identify vehicles in a "Road Tour" video game. The study found that after a year, participants gained at least three years worth of cognitive improvement.

Video game players were later set against crossword puzzle-solvers and consistently scored better on tests requiring concentration, task shifting and information processing.

According to Dr. James Galvin, director of the Pearl Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment at the NYU Langone School of Medicine, the study demonstrates the potential to remodel the brain later in life.

"It's really interesting to be able to demonstrate that these more challenging kinds of tasks ... showed a significant benefit compared to crossword puzzles," Galvin said. "The nature of the brain is that even later in life, we can still remodel it. This suggests we have an opportunity to make a real impact on older adults in terms of their mental ability."

Video games are becoming more commonly used in several health aspects. Doctors have used games to treat lazy eye, help stroke victims and even encourage healthy living.

The next level of puzzles.

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