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Bejeweled Yields Cognitive Benefit In Older Adults

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the five-supernova-grandma dept.

Medicine 82

donniebaseball23 writes "PopCap Games and University of Massachusetts Amherst psychology researcher Susan K. Whitbourne, Ph.D. have released the results of a survey targeting the habits of older and younger gamers. Interestingly, PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz was found to be a good cognitive training tool for older adults. Of those who play Bejeweled Blitz on a regular basis, 47 percent of adults over 50 reported feeling 'sharper' while performing other tasks, and nearly 24 percent of adults over 65 felt that their pattern recognition improved. Dr. Whitbourne intends to conduct a series of studies looking into the value of gaming for older audiences."

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82 comments

Cognition without drugs and video games. (2, Insightful)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403066)


It's nice to see some improvements in human health being made without the pushing of the drugs on the population!

There are other drugless ways to improve cognition in older adults:
- Get plenty of exercise.
At 80 you needn't be running marathons, but a nice hour long walk in the morning will do wonders for your health.

- Eat an organic & vegetarian (preferably vegan) diet.
You Are What You Eat. Skip the bacon and eggs at breakfast. Go for a delicious fruit smoothie made with organic raspberries & blueberries. For that necessary protein, toss some organic tofu in the blender as well.
Don't eat a big, fat lunch. Lunch is the least important meal of the day. Nibble on some organic fruit & granola.
Dinner? Go for it within reason. Just stay within the boundaries of organic vegan and you're good to go! A well fed mind is a cognitive mind.

- Get plenty of sleep.
This is important. Many older people sleep less than they did when in their 40's. You can sleep longer, don't worry. A relaxed mind is a cognitive mind.

- Get regular Chiropractic adjustments
Thousands of older patients swear by the life-saving miracle of Chiropractic. It eliminates health-draining subluxations, removes nerve blockages, and helps your bodies innate healing powers win any battle against infection or disease. A subluxation-free body leads to a cognitive mind.

- Avoid MDs
This is a given. Big Pharma doctors push expensive drugs rather than helping patients make lifestyle changes. Instead of the diet above they'd feed you cholesterol pills. Instead of exercise mentioend above they'd push blood pressure pills on you. A drug-free mind is a cognitive mind.

It's YOUR life, TAKE CONTROL!

Take care,
Bob.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403388)

Get plenty of exercise

Good advice.

Eat an organic & vegetarian (preferably vegan) diet.

Not quite as good - some people can't properly digest plant materials. Humans are not herbivores after all, we're omnivores, and without a full spectrum diet, we're not getting all of the inputs we need. If you're going the vegetarian route, you need to include a lot of vitamin supplements. Also "organic" is a brand name for advertizing - it just means that the toxic pesticides they use are all old ones with known health hazards, instead of the new ones we don't know the problems from yet.

Get plenty of sleep.

Back to the good advice.

Get regular Chiropractic adjustments

Thousands of people swear by crystal magic and faeries too, that doesn't mean they actually fix anything real.

Avoid MDs

Ok, now you've just stepped off the brink into total whack-a-loon territory Bob. Stop trying to get people to kill themselves. "Big Pharma" is not real. Seriously, seek help for the paranoia, you're hurting yourself, and you're letting your insanity cause you to hurt others.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (0)

ad1217 (2418196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404658)

Eat an organic & vegetarian (preferably vegan) diet.

Not quite as good - some people can't properly digest plant materials. Humans are not herbivores after all, we're omnivores, and without a full spectrum diet, we're not getting all of the inputs we need. If you're going the vegetarian route, you need to include a lot of vitamin supplements.

That is absolutely not true. All of the nutrients humans need can be found it plants. You just need to eat the right plants. You are correct that you cannot just take meat out of your diet, you need to replace it with other plant-based foods.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408694)

"That is absolutely not true. All of the nutrients humans need can be found it plants. You just need to eat the right plants. You are correct that you cannot just take meat out of your diet, you need to replace it with other plant-based foods. "

It absolutely is true. The plants that contain the necessary nutrients are almost unversally semi-toxic to humans. There are a LOT of people out there who can`t tolerate the toxins. Veggies + eggs, dairy, and fish is the closest to pacifist that anyone can universally safely go. You need to at least eat eggs, dairy, and some fish to safely avoid the toxic elements that are abundant in the plants you are talking about.

Massive amounts of Soy are in almost every single product that claims to be a meat replacement, and a quick google search will find you dozens of papers published from many seperate sources. In some cases even pro-vegetarian sources that are trying to find ways to avoid the stuff.

I understand that some asian peoples have been much closer to herbivores than anyone of european descent for a long time and as such can nearly live on a vegan diet safely. The truth of the matter is that if you`re not descended from one of those peoples then you most likely don`t have the genetic gumption to digest some of the things that they do and you shouldn`t try.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (1)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37424394)

"Veggies + eggs, dairy, and fish is the closest to pacifist that anyone can universally safely go."

Universally? Really? My wife would beg to differ considering she has anaphylactic allergies to eggs, dairy, and fish. I don't think there's any diet that will really work out universally.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#37425804)

I left out an almost in there somewhere. There are exceptions to every rule. That one ^^ works out nutritionally but of course doesn't take into consideration those that would likely have just died as children a mere 200 years ago.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37416850)

If you knew what was in our meat, how it was handled, you would run screaming from it. I prefer wild game, it's untouched by all of the antibiotics and steroids and God only knows what else. But not everyone can hunt, be picky about your meat, look for free range meat. Cutting down on meat isn't a bad idea. I had stomach problems for a long time in my 30s. I was eating antacids constantly. I then went full vegan for a year and my stomach problems all cleared up. I could drink pecante sauce (hot sauce), the hot kind out of the jar like it was a drink at the end of that year. If I would look at anything spicy, the sight alone would send my stomach acids churning like a volcano, before that. Now and then I have to cut out the black pepper out of my diet or my asshole will murder me. Seriously, if you have irritable bowels that burn and keep burning, cut out the black pepper.

Chiropractics work great. I worked when I was younger as a carpet layer. And I would wreck my back lifting big rolls of carpet. My boss was also a layer and his knees were killing him. The doctors wanted to do surgery on his knees. He instead went to a talented chiropractor and walked out of the office with his crutches over his shoulders instead of on them. I went when my back got wrecked, and it fixed me right up. It's all about talent with those guys, you have to find the right one. Some are worthless and a waste of time and money.

An MD is a gateway doctor. You discuss problems with them and they help you get to specialists. If you get an idiot one, or one who is getting kickbacks to write scrips, you are going to get loaded up on on prescriptions that you probably don't need. Also, be a participant in your own health care. Be informed, monitor your own BP and blood sugars, take care of your body at least as good as you do your car. Research any drug you are prescribed and test for potential organ damage. I was taking a prescription once that would have wrecked my liver if I hadn't had my liver checked. It was starting to damage it when I went and got tested, thankfully I caught it and changed to something else for my ailment.

Lastly, talk extensively with your doctor. Communicate with him, don't just set there and think he is a mind reader or omnipotent. Make a list if you have to, or take your spouse with you if you can stand them being in the room with you while talking to a doctor. If they care an iota about you, there is a chance they will remember or notice something that you fail to.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37404138)

I can't believe you want people to skip the bacon..... that's ridiculous.
Now go ask for forgiveness from the bacon gods.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (1)

ad1217 (2418196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404670)

Eh. I'm vegan.

Re:Cognition without drugs and video games. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406032)

Eh. I'm vegan.

Has Vega [wikipedia.org] developed any habitable planets recently?

Helps Pattern Recognition? (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403092)

Pattern Recognition is good? Why, isn't that often called "stereotyping", or "racism"??

Re:Helps Pattern Recognition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403354)

Are you serious? Is it racist when you read? You know... pattern recognition of characters and all. Or doctors when they make diagnoses based on a set of data? Nope, context does not exist any more.

Re:Helps Pattern Recognition? (2)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403360)

Why, isn't that often called "stereotyping", or "racism"?

Only when you are doing it wrong.

Apparently having those labels applied, even incorrectly, is so frightening that all pattern recognition be abandoned altogether. That is why the TSA gropes grandmas and babies at the airport.

Re:Helps Pattern Recognition? (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404104)

Only when you are doing it wrong.

Sounds like a "no true Scotsman" argument to me.

Re:Helps Pattern Recognition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403598)

Since there are roughly equal numbers of all colors of jewels are present in Bejeweled (hence no visible minorities), and no behaviors or personality attributes are being associated with them, it's fairly safe to say it's not stereotyping. Since the task you're supposed to perform involves grouping together groups of the same color jewel to be removed however, it's possible that it does count as segregation.

Re:Helps Pattern Recognition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405616)

The blacks shoot up their neighbors (and anyone of the same color)

"Felt?" (1)

Squiffy (242681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403112)

They *felt* sharper? So what? Sometimes I *feel* like a dragon with a nine-foot penis. Doesn't mean I *am* one.

Re:"Felt?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403148)

And I feel like I can control the blocks, to form lines! Buhaha, you shall tremble before my mighty blocks! Wait where did they go?!

Re:"Felt?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403432)

With a name like "Squiffy" I'd wager a bet that you actually *are* a dragon with a nine-foot penis.

Re:"Felt?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403960)

They *felt* sharper? So what? Sometimes I *feel* like a dragon with a nine-foot penis. Doesn't mean I *am* one.

I want to know what drugs you're taking that cause that result, and where I can get some.

you've corrupted the googles! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404036)

I just felt a terrible disturbance in the googles, like thousands of furries cried out in joy and started flocking to slashdot.
imagine their disappointment at being thwarted. Delicious.

err, 'reported feeling' (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403132)

She doesn't seem to have a version of the study itself on her website, but I certainly hope the methodology is more rigorous than this makes it sound:

felt that their pattern recognition improved

I am quite sure many Bejeweled Blitz players, if asked after playing some Bejeweled Blitz if their pattern recognition had improved, would tell you "yes". But a more interesting question is whether it had, in fact, improved.

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403206)

95% of those surveyed, felt that playing Bejeweled left their hair smoother, shinier, and easier to manage.

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (0)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403558)

>"47 percent of adults over 50 reported feeling 'sharper'".

In other words, no different from tossing a coin.

What a worthless "study" and an even more worthless /. posting.

Come back Cmdr Taco!

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (4, Informative)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403228)

The feelings of the users is what is the impetus for having a study to see if it is a real effect, or just a feeling. The summary says they will be having a study, not that there has been a study.

Dr. Whitbourne intends to conduct a series of studies looking into the value of gaming for older audiences.

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (2)

BenVis (795521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403938)

Looking over the abstracts of some of Dr. Whitbourne's recently published works [nih.gov], it looks like Dr. Whitbourne's group is developing the hypothesis that how a person feels about aging has an impact on their psychological well-being. This might seem obvious, but put in plain language, do old people get depressed because aging causes depression, or do old people get depressed because they have a negative attitude about aging? It's actually not an obvious question. With that in mind, knowing how older adults feel about their cognitive abilities after playing games is of value.

TFA mentions the study is ongoing. A different article about the study [masslive.com] indicates the researchers will also have participants take objective tests of cognitive abilities, so the research isn't only looking at subjective self-report.

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404278)

True, that's an interesting point. Perhaps the mere existence of "intellectual-seeming" games accessible to the elderly can have benefit, separate from the question of how intellectual they in fact are.

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405106)

Oh shit. A comment that educated me. Ok I'm done reading this thread now, got it.

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37407090)

It's just like 'new age'/alternative medicine. People feel better; that's great, but are they better or do they just feel better? (If you want to feel better you could just take something natural like heroin, cocaine etc).

Re:err, 'reported feeling' (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37410530)

There is also this bit [masslive.com]:

PopCap Games, the Seattle maker of Bejeweled Blitz, is funding the research with a $10,000 grant.

And not so long ago there has been a similar study into the Brain Age games, which basically showed that playing Brain Age makes you better at playing Brain Age, but doesn't really transfer into other areas.

Self Reported (1)

NortySpock (1966236) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403220)

They "felt" better at things they had "practice" with, which proves nothing. Call me when they show demonstrable improvement.

placebo? (1)

toppromulan (1362421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403224)

So what was the placebo in this study, twiddling your thumbs? :)

Re:placebo? (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403296)

I imagine that the control would, in fact, be doing nothing for approximately the same amount of time that the other group played Bejeweled. You might want to throw in some other games or cognative activities (DOOM, crossword puzzles, Solitare, etc.) to see if the "action-puzzle" nature of Bejeweled is what causes the feelings of "sharpness," as well.

Squidward? (1)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403934)

So what was the placebo in this study, twiddling your thumbs? :)

Or was it, watching Sponge-Bob for 20 minutes?

How do I delete my /. account? (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403376)

The total crap stories like this over the past few weeks has convinced me this place has jumped the shark, with a shark on a shark.

Re:How do I delete my /. account? (1)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403534)

It even has "could be" plainly in the url, which should have immediately ruled it out if anybody was actually monitoring submissions. Not as bad as the deliberately fake "nuclear leak" story but I agree with jumping the shark. Slashdot has fallen apart recently.

Phillip.

Re:How do I delete my /. account? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404210)

Jesus Christ, what a horrible thought. Taco was holding this place together?
I always assumed he was the head troll.

What were the possible answers? (1)

sheepe2004 (1029824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403464)

"Of those who play Bejeweled Blitz on a regular basis, 47 percent of adults over 50 reported feeling “sharper” while performing other tasks." So 53 percent of adults reported feeling less sharp while performing other tasks?

You mean (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403466)

playing it for 3h per day instead of learning theoretical physics in the 3rd semester was actually good for me?

Bad Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403540)

Um...maybe a scientific study would be interesting but the fact that they "felt" snappier is a completely useless measure unless we're just studying perceived cognitive ability.

idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403642)

It always amazes me how "psychologists" have to perform studies to state the obvious. Who would have thought exercising your brain yields positive results.

Re:idiots (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406776)

It was also obvious that the earth was flat, there was an ocean in the sky, magic existed, and that we clung to the ground because there's a concrete up and down and things fall down by their nature. They were obvious until someone decided to study obvious things, and found out that we were totally wrong. Obvious things tend to either be that way because they're true, or because they fall into a particular blindspot in human perception. There's no way of knowing which it's going to be, for sure, without objective study of it. That said, this particular study sounds like absolute shit. Probably absolute shit done to raise money for a better study, but still.

Product placement (1)

The Immutable (2459842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37403682)

Video games help train your memory and coordination, we've known this since Mega Man. Attaching a title to this kind of obviousness is just product placement disguised as science.

Re:Product placement (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37413928)

Video games help train your memory and coordination, we've known this since Mega Man. Attaching a title to this kind of obviousness is just product placement disguised as science.

Similarly, your statement only tells us what we all already know, and what is even hinted strongly at in TFA itself. Posting to inform us of this obvious truth is just karma whoring disguised as participation in a community.

what was the control group doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403688)

Was it just sitting around doing nothing for the same amount of time?

Of course playing a pattern recognition game would make you feel more alert to patterns than just sitting there.

Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37403840)

you are such a tool

some games do convey a cognitive benefit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37404000)

If you want to play games to improve you cognitive abilities, play ones designed by neuroscientists.

For example, Posit Science has evidence that their games increase cognition. They are used in clinical settings to mitigate dementia, to combat schizophrenia, and to help recovery from traumatice brain injury.

One the fun meter, they're about a 3. On the "now where did I leave my car keys" meter, they're more like an 8.

Re:some games do convey a cognitive benefit (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404134)

If you want to play games to improve you cognitive abilities, play ones designed by neuroscientists.

For example, Posit Science has evidence that their games increase cognition. They are used in clinical settings to mitigate dementia, to combat schizophrenia, and to help recovery from traumatice brain injury.

One the fun meter, they're about a 3. On the "now where did I leave my car keys" meter, they're more like an 8.

As opposed to WOW:
fun meter: 11
"now where did I leave my car keys" meter: what keys? I have a car? what day is this again? Ooh, new quest!!

Re:some games do convey a cognitive benefit (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406780)

$690 for the "full" package, which is actually only two of the three programs? I can see why people aren't flocking to try it.

Perfect timing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37404136)

Just had job in to get a virus off and "get some pop game to work again" Got the virus off and fixed the game, which
turned out to be bejewelled. The customer was more happy about the game then getting the virus off...

Um. Really? (1)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404492)

Let's say this is true, that playing Bejeweled improves cognitive function in older adults.

Come on. It's Be-freakin'-jeweled. It's not exactly up there with calculating an integral or writing a SQL query. If anything, what this tells me is that most people are rock stupid and a simple matching game is enough to exercise and stimulate neural pathways in their brains. You want cognitive stimulation? Teach yourself complex analysis, or learn how to compose a concerto, or even (gasp!) learn Javascript!

Re:Um. Really? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405138)

Playing Tetris helps me stack moving vans and shopping bags. But put enough of these games together and maybe they help with enough kinds of pattern analysis to actually improve more complex tasks.

A "survey"? (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404512)

Call me when it's something remotely scientific. Until then, this isn't any more promising than Brain Age.

(I find Bejeweled and its many, many clones thoroughly uninteresting. Peggle is alright, though.)

Try dual n-back instead... (1)

IceNinjaNine (2026774) | more than 2 years ago | (#37404874)

How about dual N-back [wikipedia.org] training instead?

Here's a somewhat platform agnostic version [sourceforge.net] of the game to play with.

And... there's the Dual N-Back FAQ [gwern.net].

Re:Try dual n-back instead... (1)

SemperUbi (673908) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405772)

Let's not forget cognitivefun.net [cognitivefun.net]. Great free site, lots of game-like brain exercises, and sporting a clean no-nonsense design Slashdotters will love.

And we don't have to rely on reports of folks just feeling better. N-back practice has been shown to correlate with working memory gains and likely with fluid intelligence as well. Single was as good as dual in one study.

Get some physical exercise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405478)

http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/exercise.html [fi.edu]
"If you think you're going to get smarter sitting in front of your computer or watching television, think again."

Scientists have been studying how to prevent cognitive decline for many years. For seniors, physical exercise is much more effective than any computer games.

oh please (1)

jds91md (2439128) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405660)

yeah, and 96% of college professors believe they are above average teachers. asking people to self-report is not terribly accurate. Completely meaningless preliminary impression. Go to the real world and test improved (or unimproved) performance on memory tasks, although even that would not be what we really care about, which would be fending off memory decline and descent into Alzheimer's and the like, not able to recognize family or care for one's self.

Completely Unsurprising (1)

Drachasor (723880) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406424)

From what I understand, having old people learn ANY new task will help their brains keep working well. I know the speech therapist my grandmother sees uses a lot of computer games for this purpose. This isn't to say exercise isn't important too, but you need to do something regularly with your brain. New things are better than well-honed tasks.

Peer reviewed? (1)

MarkTBSc (1270662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37407074)

This is as opposed to the BBC and Dr. Adrian Owen's study that actually *Tested* people's abilities after using a brain-training game for several weeks and discovered that whilst you might get better at that game, it doesn't grant some sort of mental boost. When I get in the car in the morning and drive to work, I feel sharper when I arrive because I've been concentrating on the drive and it's got my brain up to speed. Does that mean that driving yields cognitive benefits?

Why people wonder (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408296)

....if psychology is even a science.

A 'scientific' survey that's measuring whether "feel sharper" or think they did better at something?

Um, all you're measuring is confidence levels, and/or the placebo effect. There's no data there about whether games actually DO anything.

As a 71 year senior (1)

lsatenstein (949458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408388)

I am still in IT. I do programming (C, C++, QT) and find that one does not lose ability to reason. What one loses is scratchpad memory. That is, ability to remember 4+ things at a time.

It is by repetition that the learning embeds itself in my persistent memory. This natural phenomenon of poor scratchpad memory storage for seniors is a reason that many of us choose retirement. I am programming at an office, because staying home would lead to a big downer. I am not ready to go to McD's and solve the worlds problems with the other bench politicians, or go to religious institution for early morning prayers so as to socialize and keep busy.

I still have a life.

ANY GAME WOULD! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408630)

Any game that is based on doing this at a much faster pace slowly over time, will increase the person's dexterity and awareness and even cognitive conditioning for anticipating the next move to align yourself to be well positioned. ...you do not have to be old aged, or young, and it can be any game not just bejeweled.

I think they posted this story cuz it was a boring day, and raining probably where they were!

Old people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37408710)

I wish those cognitively-challenged old people would just go away so that we could have their jobs. Keeping them sharper keeps the rest of us from getting work.

Same effect from other games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37409242)

Do any other games yield the same effect? Because Bejeweled sucks.

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