Senior citizens who live on their own at home often have a lot of time on their hands in between visits from private care attendants, and these people normally turn to puzzles, books and other activities to keep their minds active. Video games are traditionally seen as something that only young people enjoy, but new research has shown that these interactive electronics can actually improve cognitive function in the elderly.
Scientists at North Carolina State University recently published a report that studied the cognitive function of senior citizens who played the popular game World of Warcraft (WoW).
"We chose World of Warcraft because it has attributes we felt may produce benefits - it is a cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations," says Dr. Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State. "We found there were improvements, but it depended on each participant’s baseline cognitive functioning level."
Social games like WoW can be used by seniors staying in assisted living communities as a way to interact with fellow residents or family members who play, or by the elderly who live alone and want to stay connected. While slightly unorthodox, playing for a few hours a day could possibly lead to improved cognitive function.