Survey: Bejeweled Blitz could sharpen old noggin in baby boomers

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Old person computerFor the young, and now the old, it looks like PopCap games are good for everyone. In a survey of over 10,000 U.S. residents conducted by researcher Susan K. Whitbourne, Ph.D., 47 percent of older adults who play Bejeweled Blitz regularly reported feeling sharper while performing tasks.

Whitbourne, a psychology researcher at University of Massachusetts Amherst, presented her findings at this year's American Psychological Association's (APA) convention in Washington D.C. According to PopCap, Whitbourne believes that Bejeweled Blitz could be a viable platform for improving cognitive skills in older adults because it involves several of the skills that have been shown the be improved after playing video games.

Designed to see whether Whitbourne's inklings checked out, the survey found that 22.4 percent of participants aged 65 and over found their ability to see patterns improved. A small 23.9 percent of the same group reported that they could perform timed tasks more quickly after playing the game regularly. While the survey consisted of 10,331 adults aged 18 to 80-years-old, 41 percent of those were 50-years-old and over (and 83 percent total were women). And it's worth nothing that over 78 percent of participants reported to have a college degree.

Nearly half (47.5 percent) of adults aged 50 and older said that they paid no attention to the 60-second countdown timer in Bejeweled Blitz, and 52.9 percent of those 65-years-old and over reported the same reaction. Both groups of older folks were less likely than those 18 to 24-years-old to report feeling anxious because of the timer. Overall, a whopping 66.4 percent said that the game's multiplier gems were positively motivating.

Whitbourne's findings were well-received by some at the convention, like Dr. Walter Boot, director of the Attention and Training Lab of the Department of Psychology at Florida State University. "I believe the work Dr. Whitbourne and her colleagues are doing, using Bejeweled Blitz, is both critical and exciting, and that more research like this needs to be done exploring not only the types of games that bring about cognitive benefits, but also the types of games older adults are willing to play and why," Boot said. "The best cognitive aging intervention in the world is useless if older adults aren't willing and able to engage in it."

Of course, PopCap has a vested interested in the various applications of its hit games. But these findings are interesting, nevertheless. Well, there you have it: It looks like PopCap games like Bejeweled have become the proverbial Coca-Cola of the games industry--not only are they delicious fun, but they're good for you, too!

Do you believe that games like Bejeweled could be good for your cognitive health? What games do you or older folks in your life play to keep the brain in tip-top shape? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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