Brain stimulation has long been touted as a way of preventing dementia.
Now, scientists have tested an unusual method of keeping the mind active in their quest to halt the devastating disease in its tracks.
Older adults were asked to either learn how to play the piano or complete quests on Super Mario 64 for half an hour each day.
And Canadian researchers discovered that playing the popular children's video game was the most effective method.
The classic game, adored across the world, sees players running around an open-world trying to collect stars during various missions.
Completing the puzzles and killing enemies as 'Mario' - the famous character - for five nights each week can boost memory, scientists found.
They discovered that Super Mario 64 helped to increase gray matter in the brains of older people who took part in the study.
Gray matter plays a vital role in controlling memory and decision-making, and is known to decrease in the early stages of dementia.
The classic game, adored by children, sees players running around an open-world trying to collect stars during various missions
The effects were only noticed for those playing Super Mario 64 - despite another group being taught to play the piano for the first time in their life.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, involved 33 participants who were randomly assigned to one of three groups.
The volunteers, aged between 55 and 75, either played Super Mario 64, had piano lessons for the first time in their life or took part in no task.
Scientists, led by Professor Gregory West at the Université de Montréal, asked them to perform their task for 30 minutes each night for five nights a week.
Professor West believes the findings could be used to potentially discover ways of how to protect aging adults from the onslaught of dementia.
He said: '3D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is