A Meta-analysis Indicating the Benefits of Video Games for Older Adults

The study is called “Video Game Training Enhances Cognition of Older Adults: A Meta-Analytic Study.”

The main aim of the meta-analytic study was to investigate the extent to which cognitive training with video games enhances cognitive functions in healthy older adults (age 60 and older). Here is what they found:

It has been suggested that video game training enhances cognitive functions in young and older adults. However, effects across studies are mixed. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine the hypothesis that training healthy older adults with video games enhances their cognitive functioning. The studies included in the meta-analysis were video game training interventions with pre- and posttraining measures. Twenty experimental studies published between 1986 and 2013, involving 474 trained and 439 healthy older controls, met the inclusion criteria. The results indicate that video game training produces positive effects on several cognitive functions, including reaction time (RT), attention, memory, and global cognition. The heterogeneity test did not show a significant heterogeneity (I2 20.69%) but this did not preclude a further examination of moderator variables. The magnitude of this effect was moderated by methodological and personal factors, including the age of the trainees and the duration of the intervention. The findings suggest that cognitive and neural plasticity is maintained to a certain extent in old age.

Here is what they concluded:
The overall meta-analysis unambiguously revealed that training older adults with video games improves cognition. The main findings can be summarized as follows: (a) video game training in older adults produces positive effects on several cognitive functions that decline with aging; (b) several methodological and personal factors have moderator effects; (c) among the analyzed variables, the age of the participants and the number of sessions in the training program were significant in modifying the effect size of the interventions. These moderator variables may explain, in part, the variability of the results reported so far in the literature on this topic.

Overall, the results of this meta-analysis confirm our main hypothesis that video game training improves cognitive functioning in older adults. However, the present results do not confirm the specific hypotheses regarding age, duration of training, type of program, number, and type of video games. In fact, we predicted greater improvement with longer training interventions, but the results showed that short training is a better option for this type of intervention with older adults.

References:

Toril, P., Reales, J. M., & Ballesteros, S. (2014). Video game training enhances cognition of older adults: A meta-analytic study. Psychology And Aging, 29(3), 706-716. doi:10.1037/a0037507

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