It looks like Mario is fighting more than just Bowser these days! According to new research, playing Super Mario 64 has a significant impact on brain health and can actually help slow cognitive decline in older adults. Awesome, right?
To test the theory on the relationship between video games and brain health in older individuals, researchers at the University of Montreal studied 33 participants ranging in age from 55 to 75. The participants were placed into three groups: One played the nostalgic 3-D platform game, a second took a series of computerized piano lessons and the third didn't take part in any tasks at all.
The results? After six months of performing their assigned tasks for 30 minutes a night, five nights a week, the group tasked with saving Princess Peach saw significant increases in gray matter in the hippocampus (which plays a major role in learning and memory) and cerebellum (which deals with movement and coordination). As an added one-up, the gamers also got a small boost to their short-term memory. How cool is that?
On the other hand, those who learned how to play the piano only saw an increase in gray matter in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which controls working memory and selective attention, while those who weren't involved in either task experienced a loss in gray matter overall.
More gray matter is important because it indicates a healthier and "younger" brain, while lower gray matter in the hippocampus is associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.
These findings support previous research on the brain-boosting benefits of video games. Of course, Nintendo lovers already know that gaming can also promote social and spatial skills as well as improve the player's ability to multitask and problem-solve.
So whether you're reaching the final levels of life or still learning the basic controls, video games can be a fun and productive way to show your brain some love — even if it isn't always good for your sex life.
Read more: 8 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age
What Do YOU Think?
Do you play video games? What's your favorite game? What do you do to keep your brain healthy? Did you know about the brain-boosting powers of playing video games? If you don't play, do you think you'll start? Share in the comments section!