• The Center mourns the loss of a dear friend and tireless CVL supporter. click here

  • CVL councilmember and benefactor’s life remembered in the Dallas Morning here

  • Aging-themed issue of Nautilus Magazine explores cognitive benefits of learning a new game such as chess, cites here

  • ‘Fitizen’ group at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas learns about research at CVL. click here

  • CVL research published in JoN finds that some memories persist in the face of strong interference. click here

  • Dr. Sara Festini’s research probes busyness levels and cognitive here

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CVl Annual Review

CVl Annual Review

Charting Our Progress is CVL’s annual review, with archives available

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Playing for Keeps: Video Game Training to Maintain Cognitive Vitality

DALLAS – May 21, 2014 – The Center for Vital Longevity hosted two dozen DFW health and technology professionals committed to cognitive health as part of a social media “meetup” to cover issues related to aging.

The group, “iACT,” which stands for “Innovation in Aging, Caregiving, and Technology,” listened to a wide-ranging talk that touched on the socio-economic burden of increasing cognitive frailty as the world’s population ages.

Dr. Chandramallika Basak, an assistant professor and one of CVL’s six faculty, presented findings about how certain video games are associated with improved cognitive performance.

Research has suggested a link between playing action video games and improvements in a variety of visual and attentional skills in younger adults, but it turns out that not all video games are created equal – or have the same effect on cognition, Dr. Basak said. Some strategy-based video games allow opponents to take turns, whereas others take place in real-time or in parallel – scenarios in which speed is of the essence in addition to the embedded complexities of strategy.

Dr. Basak’s research has looked into training adults on real-time strategy video games, such as “Rise of Nations,” and what effect does the training have on a wider range of cognitive abilities, including attention, memory and multi-tasking.

She also discussed the cognitive differences seen in gamers who are asked to focus on all aspects of the game during learning, so called “fixed-priority” learning, or those gamers who are asked to focus on improving separate game components, more or less one at a time – so-called “variable-priority” training.

Participants in Dr. Basak’s study showed more flexible skill learning and retrieval with variable-priority training, compared to the fixed-priority training. The variable-priority learning was most beneficial to adults whose first day’s game performance was worse than their peers.

Dr. Basak also talked about links between learning to play strategy video games and gray matter volumes in specific areas of the brain, such as frontal cortex, an area that is involved in reasoning and multi-tasking. A lot of the group’s questions focused on what apps they should immediately download to begin improving cognition, as people pulled out there small phones immediately after the talk.
“It was neat to learn that video games boost cognition and which ones may not work as well,” one attendee said.

Founded last year, iACT bills itself as a launch pad of new ideas and conversations about aging and caregiving while revealing the latest technological innovations emerging in the academic, corporate and entrepreneurial environments.