Most younger video game players couldn’t imagine sitting down with their grandparents to a game of "Doom" or "Diablo," but that may be on the horizon. A University of Iowa study is seeking volunteers between 21 and 80 years old to play video games.
U-of-I neurology professor Dr. Matt Rizzo says he’s testing whether playing Nintendo may help sharpen minds. Dr. Rizzo says "People tend to use crossword puzzles, chess, they learn new languages, they play musical instruments and these can produce meaningful effects but one of the questions is whether they actually last. It actually turns out that lately, recreational video games seem to show benefits for cognitive health and performance and that’s not just in young people but also in old people."
Rizzo says the study involves vision, thinking and written tests, questionnaires and playing Nintendo Wii (WE) and other video game consoles. He says video games have gotten a bad reputation in some circles, one they don’t deserve. Rizzo says "Younger people who have exposure to video games actually seem to have better visual-motor performance, may become better surgeons. Fighter pilots who use these perform better in fighter jets. It provides evidence this is an area that requires further investigation." He says many younger people are thrilled by the chance to play video games — in the name of scientific research.
Rizzo adds, the study is seeking volunteers in a wide range of ages because they’d like to test people across a broad generational spectrum. Rizzo says "As technology is around longer, older people are more likely to feel comfortable with it and to use it, so we’re confronting older populations of Baby Boomers in their 50s and 60s who feel comfortable around electronic devices, around e-mail and around games. They may’ve enjoyed playing games when they were younger, for example, Pac-Man in the early 1980s."
For more information about the study, call (319) 335-4667.