Can Video Games Relieve Depression in Seniors? Study the University of Utah to find out.


SALT LAKE CITY – Could Video Games Help Fight Depression In Seniors When Medications Don’t Seem to Work?

University of Utah researchers received a period of five years, $ 7.5 million grant from National Institute of Mental Health to determine whether therapy such as video games can help relieve depression in adults aged 60 to 85.

Ask the expert on depression in the elderly

Sarah Morimoto, PsyD., is leading the new clinical trial and is an associate professor of population health sciences at Utah University of Health.

She said the study sought to confirm findings from previous studies that the intervention does a good job of treating depression in older people who have not taken full advantage of antidepressant medications. It can happen because parts of the brain aren’t functioning as well because the brain is, well, older.

In previous research, scientists found that 60% to 70% of elderly patients who could not benefit from antidepressant medications and who played specially designed video games reported a 50% drop in depressive symptoms within 30 days, according to U of U Health.

Computer programs can be customized

“We design the intervention with certain algorithms that can adjust the speed and level of difficulty to match the patient’s current functioning,” said Morimoto. “Our thought is that this maximizes the ability to learn new things in the brain and then change.”

She said the patients in the study are completely remote, can do the treatment at home, and be monitored by their doctors.

“So the doctor could just check if he had any technical difficulties or difficulties in motivating himself to follow the treatment,” said Morimoto.

the University of Connecticut will also participate in the multisite study.

The researchers are recruiting 250 volunteers, aged 60 to 85, to participate in the study who still feel depressed after receiving treatment for their disease.

To learn more about participating in the clinical trial, call 801-746-9588.


John C. Dent