''Mario'', a character in Nintendo Co Ltd's ''Mario Bros'' video games
''Mario'', a character in Nintendo Co Ltd's ''Mario Bros'' video games, is seen at the company's showroom in Tokyo July 28, 2011. Reuters/Toru Hanai

In a new study, scientists have found that 3D video games can help treat dementia and old-age memory loss. Interestingly, playing 2D games doesn’t work in the same manner.

During the study, volunteers were subjected to memory tests before and after two weeks of 3D video gaming. Volunteers playing Super Mario 3D for half an hour everyday showed a 12 percent improvement in their memory, according to The Express.

The study, led by Dr. Dane Clemenson of the University of California at Irvine, further suggests that shape recognition was also better in gaming volunteers as compared to the non-gamers. "The 3D games have a few things the 2D ones do not. They've got a lot more spatial information in there to explore,” The Express quotes Clemenson as saying. He adds that “this kind of learning and memory not only stimulates but requires the hippocampus."

Hippocampus, a part of the brain vital to memory, reduces with age. In addition, it is also damaged by dementia, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. "While we can't all travel the world on vacation, we can do many other things to keep us cognitively engaged and active. Video games may be a nice, viable route,” says the study’s co-author, Dr. Craig Stark, according to The Express.

Video games have earlier been found to enhance reaction time and also the coordination between the hand and the eye.

According to University of California, findings show the potential for new approaches to the treatment of memory loss and dementia. Through previous studies on rodents, Clemenson and other scientists have shown the link between the growth of new neurons and exploring the environment, which they say is critical to the development of the hippocampus. These neurons get entrenched in the hippocampus’ memory circuit to improve its functioning, suggests the research.

The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Dec 9, 2015.

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