Video Game Short Term Memory Loss Solution Boost Rhythm Grateful Dead Research Study

Video games, over the years, have grown from a casual entertainment platform to a multi-billion dollar global pop culture phenomenon, doling out everything from merchandising to movies. Not only that, video games also have a responsible side. Over the years, video games have helped medical professionals around the world develop physical therapy courses (using motion-based gaming devices such as the Nintendo Wii) for people in need. A recent study found that a musical rhythm-based game, originally designed to teach drumming techniques, can help improve short-term memory.

In the study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), 47 adult participants between the ages of 60 and 79 were divided into two groups – one playing a search game regular words and the other playing a musical rhythm game called Rhythmicity – for 20 minutes a day for 40 days in total. The details of the study were published in the PNAS peer-reviewed platform earlier this month, as reported by Science Alert.

Rhythmicity, developed in collaboration with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, uses visual cues to teach a user how to play rhythm on a tablet. As players progress, the intricacy of the game’s patterns becomes more difficult. The game can also adapt to the player’s abilities, to make sure nothing gets too complex to handle.

Now, after the training period was over, electroencephalography (EEG) was used to analyze the participants’ progress. This involved the subjects performing a recognition task that involved identifying unfamiliar faces. It was found that those who followed the rhythmicity pathway showed increased activity in the upper parietal lobule of the brain, which is linked to sight-reading of music and visual short-term memory. Rhythmicity players were generally found to show noticeable development in short-term memory.

What this research essentially does is prove that the proper use of video games could help people maintain their mental acuity, especially in old age.

Paul N. Strickland