Playing video games helps older adults feel sharper

Those who play Bejeweled Blitz regularly, 47 percent of
adults over 50 reported feeling sharper while performing other tasks and 23.9
percent of adults over 65 felt their ability to see patterns improved,
according to PopCap Games and University of Massachusetts Amherst psychology
researcher Susan K. Whitbourne.

Bejeweled Blitz is a highly popular social game developed
by survey underwriter PopCap Games, a
leading developer and publisher of casual video games.  

The survey of more than 10,000 U.S. adults investigated
the feasibility of Bejeweled Blitz as a cognitive training tool for older

Whitbourne believes that Bejeweled Blitz is a plausible
platform for improving cognitive skills because it requires several of the
skills that have been shown to be improved in action video games. If certain
cognitive skills can be improved through action training, then perhaps those
skills can also be improved through Bejeweled Blitz training.

Only respondents 50 and older were included in analyses
examining the perceived impact of Bejeweled Blitz on cognition. Of adults 50
and older 47.2 percent perceived feeling sharper in performing other tasks the
most frequent benefit. Adults 65 and older were most likely to feel an
improvement in their ability to see patterns (22.4 percent); they were also
slightly more likely to state that they could perform timed tasks more quickly
(23.9 percent).

Questions concerning sound effects, multipliers (special
gems that increase the score for each match), and countdown timers were
intended to establish whether there were age differences in these preferences
that may relate to cognitive and motivational processes involved in game play.

Nearly half of the respondents (47.5 percent) stated that
they paid no attention to the countdown timer; adults 65 and older (52.9
percent) were most likely to report this reaction and less likely than younger
adults, particularly those 18-24, to feel that the timer made them anxious.
There were no age differences in responses to seeing multiplier gems;
nearly two-thirds of the sample (66.4 percent) stated that they were positively

The survey consisted of 10,331 adults (83 percent
females), ages 18 to 80. 4,234 (41 percent) participants were ages 50 and over.
The majority of all adults (78.6 percent) had at least a college education. The
first question of the survey asked participants to indicate whether they played
Bejeweled Blitz. Those who did were directed to the next survey of questions.
Participants were recruited via a blog posting on the Psychology Today website
that contained a link to the online survey.

By Team
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