World of Warcraft Enhances Cognition?

World of Warcraft Good For Those Interested in Enhancing Cognitive Abilities?

Playing a popular online game may improve some older adults' abilities to focus their attention, a new study suggests.

Those who spent two weeks playing "World of Warcraft" — a game in which players take on the role of a character, and role-play with others in fighting monsters and completing quests — improved more on tests of attention and of spatial abilities than those who didn't play the game, the results showed.

"It is a cognitively challenging game, in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations,” said study researcher Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

However, the amount of improvement depended on a person's ability at the start — those with the lowest baseline scores improved the most, whereas those with the highest scores at the outset gained no benefit from playing the game.

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The researchers noted that the improvement in thinking skills is likely not specific to this particular game. Any game that includes "multitasking and switching between multiple cognitive abilities such as memory and spatial manipulations, and reasoning," would be effective, they wrote.

The findings were published online on Feb. 17 in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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