If you are an avid gamer we’ve got good news: According to a recent study from the Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, playing games REALLY does help to improve cognitive function, especially for adults. So really, don’t worry and keep on gaming!
Using MRI scanning, the researchers have found evidence that activities like reading, attending the theater, writing and playing games can help preserve the structure of the brain in aging individuals. Their results suggest that the nerve fibers responsible for transmitting information through the brain function at higher levels when engaged over time in complex, stimulating activities. The study, presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting in November, followed 152 elderly people and compared their brain function to the amount of mentally stimulating activities they performed. The data indicate that the those participants who were more mentally active maintained a higher level of brain function as measured by the MRI.
Arguably, the games enjoyed by gamblers can stimulate brain function in this way. Card games, which call for quick thinking, math skills, rapid recall and other mental gymnastics offer just this kind of training. In particular, poker and blackjack demand careful strategic thinking and poses serious mental obstacles, despite its often rapid-fire play. Online blackjack players and other card game enthusiasts can take heart: win or lose, at least their brains are getting a work-out.