It used to be said that video games are bad for you, but it turns out they can help keep your brain in good condition, or at least Super Mario 64 can.
A study published by the University of Montreal took a group of 33 volunteers aged between 55 and 75 years old and split them into three groups.
Over a six month period, for 30 minute periods one group was tasked with learning to play the piano on a computer, the other to play the classic Nintendo 64 3D platformer, and the third group simply did nothing at all.
At the end of the study, the Mario 64 playing group was found to have had significant growth of the cerebellum and the hippocampus parts of the brain.
The cerebellum is used for control and balance while the hippocampus is where long-term memories are formed.
As such, a bout of the classic Mario game, and arguable one of the best 3D platformers of all time, could help stave off Alzheimer’s and keep older people more mobile and steady.
The research notes that need to learn how to best navigate an environment can help form cognitive maps in the brain and boost the over all function of grey matter.
The researchers concluded that more research is needed to address “how individual differences can contribute to the successful completion of 3D-platform training in older adults”, but the results paint a positive picture on how video games can help combat memory and control related brain problems.
Such findings could potentially lead to games being developed specifically for older people to improve their brain health.
The research didn’t suggest that current Nintendo hits like Super Mario Odyssey would lead to better grey matter, but we reckon there’s no harm in trying.
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