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Video Games Improve Brain Connections

Video games could literally train our brains to resist symptoms of disease.

Some research already suggests that gaming can be good for our brains. Now, a study found that a specific type could help treat "brain fog," also known as "cognitive impairment." Cognitive impairment is when the brain is slow at processing information. It's a symptom that appears in people with Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and other illnesses — but it also shows up in head injuries, depression, fevers or simply as we age.

Scientists asked a group of about 200 MS patients to play computer games for 12 weeks, or about 60 hours in total. Some played regular puzzle games thought to sharpen the brain, such as a Sudoku, while others played adaptive brain games. The video games use something known as "adaptive cognitive training." That means the game adjusts its speed or difficulty level in real time, based on how well players perform on simple tasks like remembering a sequencing of numbers or identifying a target on the screen.

Patients who played the adaptive games reported significant improvement in their thought processing, leading to believe that these games could revolutionize how diseases are treated. For one, they can be done at home instead of at a doctor's office.

Physical exercise increases our resistance to a long list of bodily ailments, and the brain works in a similar way. By doing these exercises, patients are building new skills and effectively developing parts of their brain.

More research will give scientists an idea of how often people should train or how long the positive effects will last.

Source: The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA®)