Playing Super Mario increases oculomotor inhibition and frontal eye field grey matter in older adults

Abstract

Aging is associated with cognitive decline and decreased capacity to inhibit distracting information. Video game training holds promise to increase inhibitory mechanisms in older adults. In the current study, we tested the impact of 3D-platform video game training on performance in an antisaccade task and on related changes in grey matter within the frontal eye fields (FEFs) of older adults. An experimental group (VID group) engaged in 3D-platform video game training over a period of 6 months, while an active control group was trained on piano lessons (MUS group), and a no-contact control group did not participate in any intervention (CON group). Increased performance in oculomotor inhibition, as measured by the antisaccade task, and increased grey matter in the right FEF was observed uniquely in the VID group. These results demonstrate that 3D-platform video game training can improve inhibitory control known to decline with age.

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Funding

This project was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grant: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/193.html to Sylvie Belleville and a Natural science and engineering research council of Canada grant to Greg L West (436140-2013): http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp.

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Correspondence to Greg L. West.

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Diarra, M., Zendel, B.R., Benady-Chorney, J. et al. Playing Super Mario increases oculomotor inhibition and frontal eye field grey matter in older adults. Exp Brain Res 237, 723–733 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-018-5453-6

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Keywords

  • Frontal eye fields
  • Attention
  • Antisaccade
  • Cognitive training
  • Video game
  • Ageing