World Of Warcraft Improves Cognitive Ability
February 23, 2012

World Of Warcraft Improves Cognitive Ability

A new study subjected older adults to the popular game World of Warcraft in order to test the change in their cognitive ability.

Researchers at North Carolina State University found that playing the game boosted the cognitive ability of those adults that played the game, especially those that scored poorly on the baseline test.

Dr. Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State and co-author of the study says, “We chose World of Warcraft because it has attributes we felt may produce benefits – it is a cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations. We found there were improvements, but it depended on each participant´s baseline cognitive functioning level.”

The study participants were within the age group between 60 and 77 years of age. They were tested in the Gains Through Gaming laboratory initially with a baseline test. The tested abilities included spatial ability, memory and ability to focus attention.

The participants played World of Warcraft for 14 hours over a two-week period. After this period they were retested and the researchers found that World of Warcraft increased the cognitive functionality of the participants. The results, though, were dependent upon the participants baseline score.

According to McLaughlin, “Among participants who scored well on baseline cognitive functioning tests, there was no significant improvement after playing WOW – they were already doing great. But we saw significant improvement in both spatial ability and focus for participants who scored low on the initial baseline tests.”

Jason Allaire, an associate professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of the paper says, “The people who needed it most – those who performed the worst on the initial testing – saw the most improvement.”

The researchers also had a “control” group who did not play World of Warcraft and they showed no cognitive improvement after the two-week period.

The paper “Individual differences in response to cognitive training: Using a multi-modal, attentionally demanding game-based intervention for older adults” is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.


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