* Gaming plus a ZAP?

sticky notesWill playing video games improve working memory?  Neuroscientists are examining the claims made by a number of cognitive training programs, with an eye to improving working memory in aging adults as well as youngsters with learning challenges. Why working memory?  It is a strong predictor of educational success.  (And it helps me remember why I trekked upstairs.)

A recent article in Brain in the News (written by Lisa Munoz for the Cognitive Neuroscience Society) reports that scientists have shocking news: apparent long-lasting benefits in working memory when a mild current (tDCS) is passed through the brain.  John Jonides, one of many researchers exploring how video games might improve working memory, reports that they tried the tDCS current “as a lark, not expecting to find much, but the fact that the training effect lasts as long as months is both surprising and very provocative because it opens up the use of tDCS for long-term learning enhancement.”

Jonides’ team is now studying two currents “to boost plasticity in the underlying brain cortex.”  His goal is to “accelerate the learning process that occurs during game play, especially for those individuals with damage.”  This is encouraging news, giving me hope that some day, weaknesses in working memory may be addressed efficiently and permanently.

Sign me up!  I am tired of wandering around, wondering what I was doing in the first place.  I might even start playing Hearts again!

* Gaming for kids

Check out my new category, Gaming for Kids.  As a special ed teacher and aunt to many younger kiddos, I am exposed to a wide range of computer and tablet games.  I’ve seen advantages and downsides to these activities.  There’s a growing body of educational neuroscience which can help parents and teachers evaluate whether a game is potentially helpful or harmful.  Remember that all kids are unique and what is benign for one may be toxic for another.  As an adult, I can easily waste time on games.  In fact, I can become addicted to those jewel matching games and have had to delete the lot of them.

I am now posting videos, article, and other media to Pixelpuf, a free gaming site.  Our son is working on this website, so there’s some nepotism involved!  It’s also interesting to see his evolution in the world of gaming.  As a youngster, he became addicted to Sega games and my dearest teaching widower and I had to banish the entire outfit.  He immediately switched to a variety of complex card games, like Babylon 5.  As an adult, he plays games with friends and continues his interest in complex analysis of game stuff.  If you can make sense of the article he’s posted, I greatly admire you!

posting on Pixelpuf.JPG

Here’s a screenshot of my collection to date.  If you want to view my stuff, set option to “recent by date.”  Otherwise, I’m kinda lost in there….