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A new study has found playing Super Mario 3D boosted performance in memory tests by 12%.

You may assume that video games are just for children and teenagers (and a few grown-ups), but they could also prove to be useful means of reducing your chance of age-related memory loss.

A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found 3D gaming could help to boost memory performance. The tests were carried out on students, but it’s thought the effect could also extend to seniors.

Interestingly, the effects didn’t extend to 2D video games such as popular phone game Angry Birds.

It’s thought 3D games stimulate the hippocampus, an area of the brain that’s vital to memory, and which shrinks with age, particularly if you have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The study authors noted that playing Super Mario 3D World boosted memory by 12% – which is roughly the amount that the brain decreases by between the ages of 45 and 70.

‘The 3D games have a few things the 2D ones do not,’ says lead scientist Dr Dane Clemenson from the University of California. ‘They have a lot more spatial information in there to explore.

‘Second, they’re much more complex, with a lot more information to learn. Either way, we know this kind of learning and memory not only stimulates but requires the hippocampus.’