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Study Says “World Of Warcraft” Boosts Senior Brains

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A person plays the computer game "World of Warcraft." (credit: NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - If Grandma’s favorite game is bingo, it may be time for a change. A new study suggests that the popular online role-playing game “World of Warcraft” may keep aging brains sharp.

For the study, researchers from North Carolina State University’s Gains Through Gaming lab tested 39 adults between ages 60 and 77. Twenty of those adults played “World of Warcraft” for 14 hours over the course of two weeks. The other 19 formed a control group that did not play the computer game. The cognitive function of all the participants was tested both before and after the two-week study.

The researchers were testing for spatial ability, memory and how well participants could focus their attention. What did they find? Senior “Warcraft” gamers showed an overall greater improvement in these areas compared to the control group. What’s more, the study showed that the “people who needed it most — those who performed the worst on the initial testing — saw the most improvement,” study author Dr. Jason Allaire, an associate professor of psychology at NC State, said in a news release.

“Among participants who scored well on baseline cognitive functioning tests, there was no significant improvement after playing ‘WoW’ — they were already doing great,” said study author Dr. Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State. “But we saw significant improvement in both spatial abiliabout:blankty and focus for participants who scored low on the initial baseline tests.”

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