More Than Fun & Games: New Video Games Promise Brain Benefits

Playing video games can be good for you. Scientists at UC San Francisco’s Neuroscape center have discovered that receiving certain interventions using video games can benefit cognition, and they have developed a center to explore these benefits. The center creates games that simulate common activities like driving and playing the drums. Although the center acknowledges the potential benefits of commercial video games, they argue that the video games created by the center more effectively benefit memory because they are created using algorithms that help to personalize the gaming experience, automatically increasing and decreasing in difficulty depending on each player’s capabilities. Thus far, these interventions have been shown to benefit short-term memory, attention, and long-term memory.  

Most recently, the center created an eight-week program to examine the benefits of a musical rhythm game which was used to teach participants between the ages of 60 and 79 how to play a rhythm on an electronic tablet. The game matched each player’s capabilities, changing the tempo and rhythmic complexity required to play. As participants became familiarized with the game, the visual cues directing participants slowly disappeared, forcing participants to memorize the rhythmic patterns. By the end of the program, participants exhibited better short-term and long-term visual memory.   

In another eight-week program, the center created a second game, the Body Brain Trainer, which forced participants to raise their heart rate. By the end of the program, participants exhibited improved blood pressure and better ability to multi-task.  

Given the benefits of these programs, their creators hope that similar programs can be adapted to clinical populations as a new form of “experiential medicine.” So if you ever question the benefits of a grandkid playing a racecar video game, know that an alternative is out there that may someday be used for medical purposes. 


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ScienceDaily. (2022, October 3). Video games offer the potential of ‘experiential medicine.’ ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from 

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