Today, I stumbled across an interesting study about bilingualism, video games, and keeping the brain functioning as if it were younger than it actually is. Brain imaging research has shown that two of the most crucial reasons many elderly people have difficulties with multi-tasking are that they cannot silence mental noise, and cannot fire up activity in the frontal lobe (or other parts of the brain) as quickly as they once could.

Apparently, both bilinguals and avid video gamers have greater abilities to do both of these tasks.

“The people who were video game players were better and faster performers,” said psychologist Ellen Bialystok, a research professor at York University. “Those who were bilingual and video game addicts scored best — particularly at the most difficult tasks.”

This is very interesting. Bilingualism has long been known to have beneficial effects on the brain, and learning new skills has been shown to promote the creation of new neurons, as well as neural connections in older people. Video games have been casually linked with the Flynn effect in other studies, but this is the first time I’ve seen any talk of its effect on mental aging.