Centenarian Keeps her Mind Sharp with Nintendo DS

Kathleen Connell, who turned 100 last week, with her Nintendo DS. Mark Sutherland/HEMEDIA/SWNS

Nintendo has a new and enthusiastic, if unexpected, spokesperson in 100-year-old Kathleen "Kit" Connell of Thornliebank, Scotland. Proving that video games are not just for teenage boys, Connell told The Sun in the U.K. that her handheld Nintendo DS helps her keep her mind sharp.

Connell, who is able to live alone even though she's had both legs amputated, describes her average day as built around different games on her handheld device. Among them is "Brain Trainer," which Connell says rated her as having the same mental capacity as a 64-year-old.

"I much prefer to be using my brain and I find I am very forgetful," said Connell. " I try to do these and it really is helping."

While centenarians may not be the primary audience for the newest edition of "World of Warcraft," in recent years more and more seniors have taken advantage of video game technologies.

There's even a Wii bowling tournament sponsored by the National Senior League in the U.S., set up for those who can no longer make it to the bowling alley.

In addition to the bowling team camaraderie, doctors and scientists are looking at how games like "Wii Bowling" and "Brain Trainer" can affect an aging mind.

In 2009 Researchers at North Carolina State University were given $1.2 million by the National Science Foundation to start the Gains through Gaming Lab, which looks at how seniors can benefit from video games and what kind of game can be developed to help with cognitive abilities.

Anne C. McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology there, says that since seniors did not grow up playing video games, learning that new skill "may also be relevant." In a statement she said, "existing research shows that novelty is a catalyst for learning."

Connell, who started playing Nintendo as a spry 94-year-old, is a convert. "It's absolutely super," said. "I don't feel a day over 80."

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