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Medicine Games Idle Science

Bejeweled Yields Cognitive Benefit In Older Adults 82

donniebaseball23 writes "PopCap Games and University of Massachusetts Amherst psychology researcher Susan K. Whitbourne, Ph.D. have released the results of a survey targeting the habits of older and younger gamers. Interestingly, PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz was found to be a good cognitive training tool for older adults. Of those who play Bejeweled Blitz on a regular basis, 47 percent of adults over 50 reported feeling 'sharper' while performing other tasks, and nearly 24 percent of adults over 65 felt that their pattern recognition improved. Dr. Whitbourne intends to conduct a series of studies looking into the value of gaming for older audiences."
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Bejeweled Yields Cognitive Benefit In Older Adults

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  • Pattern Recognition is good? Why, isn't that often called "stereotyping", or "racism"??
    • by mr1911 ( 1942298 )

      Why, isn't that often called "stereotyping", or "racism"?

      Only when you are doing it wrong.

      Apparently having those labels applied, even incorrectly, is so frightening that all pattern recognition be abandoned altogether. That is why the TSA gropes grandmas and babies at the airport.

  • They *felt* sharper? So what? Sometimes I *feel* like a dragon with a nine-foot penis. Doesn't mean I *am* one.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @04:34PM (#37403132)

    She doesn't seem to have a version of the study itself on her website, but I certainly hope the methodology is more rigorous than this makes it sound:

    felt that their pattern recognition improved

    I am quite sure many Bejeweled Blitz players, if asked after playing some Bejeweled Blitz if their pattern recognition had improved, would tell you "yes". But a more interesting question is whether it had, in fact, improved.

    • by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @04:42PM (#37403206) Homepage

      95% of those surveyed, felt that playing Bejeweled left their hair smoother, shinier, and easier to manage.

    • by Coren22 ( 1625475 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @04:44PM (#37403228) Journal

      The feelings of the users is what is the impetus for having a study to see if it is a real effect, or just a feeling. The summary says they will be having a study, not that there has been a study.

      Dr. Whitbourne intends to conduct a series of studies looking into the value of gaming for older audiences.

    • by BenVis ( 795521 )

      Looking over the abstracts of some of Dr. Whitbourne's recently published works [], it looks like Dr. Whitbourne's group is developing the hypothesis that how a person feels about aging has an impact on their psychological well-being. This might seem obvious, but put in plain language, do old people get depressed because aging causes depression, or do old people get depressed because they have a negative attitude about aging? It's actually not an obvious question. With that in mind, knowing how older adults

      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        True, that's an interesting point. Perhaps the mere existence of "intellectual-seeming" games accessible to the elderly can have benefit, separate from the question of how intellectual they in fact are.

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      It's just like 'new age'/alternative medicine. People feel better; that's great, but are they better or do they just feel better? (If you want to feel better you could just take something natural like heroin, cocaine etc).

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      There is also this bit []:

      PopCap Games, the Seattle maker of Bejeweled Blitz, is funding the research with a $10,000 grant.

      And not so long ago there has been a similar study into the Brain Age games, which basically showed that playing Brain Age makes you better at playing Brain Age, but doesn't really transfer into other areas.

  • They "felt" better at things they had "practice" with, which proves nothing. Call me when they show demonstrable improvement.

  • So what was the placebo in this study, twiddling your thumbs? :)
    • by Ruke ( 857276 )
      I imagine that the control would, in fact, be doing nothing for approximately the same amount of time that the other group played Bejeweled. You might want to throw in some other games or cognative activities (DOOM, crossword puzzles, Solitare, etc.) to see if the "action-puzzle" nature of Bejeweled is what causes the feelings of "sharpness," as well.
    • So what was the placebo in this study, twiddling your thumbs? :)

      Or was it, watching Sponge-Bob for 20 minutes?

  • The total crap stories like this over the past few weeks has convinced me this place has jumped the shark, with a shark on a shark.

    • by horza ( 87255 )

      It even has "could be" plainly in the url, which should have immediately ruled it out if anybody was actually monitoring submissions. Not as bad as the deliberately fake "nuclear leak" story but I agree with jumping the shark. Slashdot has fallen apart recently.


      • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
        Jesus Christ, what a horrible thought. Taco was holding this place together?
        I always assumed he was the head troll.
  • "Of those who play Bejeweled Blitz on a regular basis, 47 percent of adults over 50 reported feeling “sharper” while performing other tasks." So 53 percent of adults reported feeling less sharp while performing other tasks?
  • playing it for 3h per day instead of learning theoretical physics in the 3rd semester was actually good for me?

  • Video games help train your memory and coordination, we've known this since Mega Man. Attaching a title to this kind of obviousness is just product placement disguised as science.
    • Why must it be today that I have no modpoints?

    • Video games help train your memory and coordination, we've known this since Mega Man. Attaching a title to this kind of obviousness is just product placement disguised as science.

      Similarly, your statement only tells us what we all already know, and what is even hinted strongly at in TFA itself. Posting to inform us of this obvious truth is just karma whoring disguised as participation in a community.

  • Let's say this is true, that playing Bejeweled improves cognitive function in older adults.

    Come on. It's Be-freakin'-jeweled. It's not exactly up there with calculating an integral or writing a SQL query. If anything, what this tells me is that most people are rock stupid and a simple matching game is enough to exercise and stimulate neural pathways in their brains. You want cognitive stimulation? Teach yourself complex analysis, or learn how to compose a concerto, or even (gasp!) learn Javascript!

    • Playing Tetris helps me stack moving vans and shopping bags. But put enough of these games together and maybe they help with enough kinds of pattern analysis to actually improve more complex tasks.

  • Call me when it's something remotely scientific. Until then, this isn't any more promising than Brain Age.

    (I find Bejeweled and its many, many clones thoroughly uninteresting. Peggle is alright, though.)

  • How about dual N-back [] training instead?

    Here's a somewhat platform agnostic version [] of the game to play with.

    And... there's the Dual N-Back FAQ [].
    • Let's not forget []. Great free site, lots of game-like brain exercises, and sporting a clean no-nonsense design Slashdotters will love.

      And we don't have to rely on reports of folks just feeling better. N-back practice has been shown to correlate with working memory gains and likely with fluid intelligence as well. Single was as good as dual in one study.

  • yeah, and 96% of college professors believe they are above average teachers. asking people to self-report is not terribly accurate. Completely meaningless preliminary impression. Go to the real world and test improved (or unimproved) performance on memory tasks, although even that would not be what we really care about, which would be fending off memory decline and descent into Alzheimer's and the like, not able to recognize family or care for one's self.
  • From what I understand, having old people learn ANY new task will help their brains keep working well. I know the speech therapist my grandmother sees uses a lot of computer games for this purpose. This isn't to say exercise isn't important too, but you need to do something regularly with your brain. New things are better than well-honed tasks.
  • This is as opposed to the BBC and Dr. Adrian Owen's study that actually *Tested* people's abilities after using a brain-training game for several weeks and discovered that whilst you might get better at that game, it doesn't grant some sort of mental boost. When I get in the car in the morning and drive to work, I feel sharper when I arrive because I've been concentrating on the drive and it's got my brain up to speed. Does that mean that driving yields cognitive benefits?
  • ....if psychology is even a science.

    A 'scientific' survey that's measuring whether "feel sharper" or think they did better at something?

    Um, all you're measuring is confidence levels, and/or the placebo effect. There's no data there about whether games actually DO anything.

  • Using your brain a bit increase cognitive function. Who knew right?
  • I am still in IT. I do programming (C, C++, QT) and find that one does not lose ability to reason. What one loses is scratchpad memory. That is, ability to remember 4+ things at a time.

    It is by repetition that the learning embeds itself in my persistent memory. This natural phenomenon of poor scratchpad memory storage for seniors is a reason that many of us choose retirement. I am programming at an office, because staying home would lead to a big downer. I am not ready to go to McD's and solve the worl

  • Any game that is based on doing this at a much faster pace slowly over time, will increase the person's dexterity and awareness and even cognitive conditioning for anticipating the next move to align yourself to be well positioned. do not have to be old aged, or young, and it can be any game not just bejeweled.

    I think they posted this story cuz it was a boring day, and raining probably where they were!

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