peggle“Peggle,” our all-time favorite game, may be making us smarter. A study by East Carolina University’s Psychophysiology Lab says that adults who play Peggle or “Bejeweled,” from PopCap.com, show definite mental improvements. (Game maker PopCap did not finance the study.)

The study involved dozens of players, ages 50 and older, to explore the effects of the games on their short-term sharpness. Those subjects who played Bejeweled or Peggle for 30-minute periods showed an 87% improvement in speed and a 215% increase in accuracy in a later “connect the dots” test.

The connect the dots test is part of the U.S. Army’s testing of an individual’s general cognitive ability and has been adopted as a kind of standard way of testing many mental skills. The Carolina study took a cognitive leap itself and suggested that game playing may stave off Alzheimer’s disease.

(It is at this point in the proceedings that Bob feels compelled to note that he first pointed out the connection between computer game playing and an increase in mental skills more than 25 years ago. It became obvious from watching kids play games on the old Apple II [there was no Apple I, by the way] that they soon developed a lot of skill in pattern recognition and were able to accurately predict what the program – and hence the programmer, would do next. Unfortunately, Bob did not have a University grant for this research, so no one paid attention.)

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