If youre a senior whos tired of crossword puzzles, why not try gaming? A new study has found that World of Warcraft can boost cognitive functioning in some seniors.
Declining cognitive functioning isn’t an inevitable part of aging. Studies have shown that seniors who exercise, socialize, eat healthy, read, and stimulate their minds, can stay sharp well into their golden years. But if you’re a senior who’s bored with word finds and crossword puzzles, you might want to sit down at your computer and explore the World of Warcraft.
This online video game holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most subscribed massively multiplayer online role-playing game with 10.2 million players as of December 2011.
Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) speculated that playing World of Warcraft could boost seniors’ cognitive functioning.
Why choose 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, assistant professor of psychology at NCSU.
The experimental group of seniors ranged in age from 60 to 77. They were given cognitive ability tests before playing 14 hours of World of Warcraft over a two-week period. The control group received cognitive testing, but they did not play.
Benefits those who need it most
After retesting two weeks later, the control group’s scores hadn’t changed, but the World of Warcraft players had a much greater increase in cognitive functions such as memory, spatial ability, and ability to focus attention. Interestingly, the game benefited seniors with poorer scores to begin with.
“The people who needed it most—those who performed the worst on the initial testing—saw the most improvement,” says Dr. Jason Allaire, associate professor of psychology at NCSU. Players who scored higher initially did not see an improvement in their scores.
Stuck for a present for the older person who has everything? Maybe you could wow them with World of Warcraft—and give them a cognitive boost!