The use of computer games designed to improve memory and planning can also boost the grades of six-year-old school children, according to a new study.
Andrea Goldin at the Physics Department, University of Buenos Aire, investigated how playing computer games over a period of 10 weeks affected the performance of 111 low socioeconomic status first-graders from two public schools in Argentina.
The games were aimed at improving working memory, planning and cognitive control critical for purposeful, goal-directed behavior.
While previous experiments have shown that training can improve children’s executive functions it had been unclear whether these benefits transfer to real-life situations.
The authors found the training games were able to improve some but not all aspects of children’s executive functions.
The improvements resulted in improved grades in language and mathematics as measured by the children’s teachers.
The games equalised academic outcomes between children who regularly attended school and those with irregular attendance due to social and family circumstances, the authors report.
The results suggest that computerized games that improve children’s executive functions can lead to improvements in real-world measures of school performance, according to the authors.
The article, Far transfer to language and math of a short software-based gaming intervention, is published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
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