People who play video games show an observable difference in brain structure than those who do not partake. It seems that research studies suggest there is a correlation between playing certain games and our cognitive flexibility and improved decision-making. Brain volume increases in the areas controlling fine motor skills, memory formation, and strategic planning. Potential for therapeutic support in treating several brain disorders and conditions resulting from an injury is shown.
Brain Volume Increases
A study shows that some real-time strategy games can increase our brains Gray matter. These increases are said to be in the hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum.
The hippocampus is responsible for creating and storing our memories. The hippocampus also connects emotions, smells, and sounds to the memories. The prefrontal cortex is involved in our decision making, problem-solving, planning, voluntary muscle movement, and impulse control. The cerebellum controls muscle tone, balance, fine motor control, and equilibrium.
Action Games Improve Visual Attention
Our visual attention can improve as well by playing certain video games. Our visual attention level depends on our brain’s ability to process relevant visual information and quash the irrelevant. It shows that video gamers typically outperform the non-gamer in the area of visual attention tasks. However, the type of game does play a significant role in visual attention enhancement. Visual games such as Halo require rapid responses to increase visual attention. It concludes that action games may have value in military training programs and treatments for specific visual impairments.
Video Games Reverse Aging Decline
Move over, kids! This COULD BE your Grandparents’ game! Older adults have increased their cognitive function by playing video games. These improvements in memory and attention functions seem to be lasting as well. Quite impressively, 60 to 85-year olds outperformed 20 to 30-year-olds who played a 3-D video game for the first time. Studies indicate that cognitive decline can be reversed at least partially in older adults.
Video Games and Aggression
Some research and study reveal there is also a negative side to playing video games as well as positive benefits. A study published in the journal, Review of General Psychology, shows that some adolescents become more aggressive from playing violent video games. Violent video games inveigle teenagers, who have issues such as depression, lack of compassion, rule-breaking, or acting without thinking. Therefore, teenagers with neurosis issues, who are disagreeable and less conscientious, seem to be more affected by violent video games.
It appears that most children are not affected. However, for those with pre-existing mental health or personality traits, violent video games could be harmful.
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that failure to master a video game leads to aggression regardless of its content. Researchers state that even games such as Tetris and Candy Crush could cause aggression like in a violent game such as World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto. Researchers insist that aggression is not related to violent video content but feelings of failure and frustration.
Healthier Than Working a Crossword Puzzle?
Video games require quick-thinking, and it finds this may be more helpful at slowing or even reversing brain decline and function coming from age.
Six hundred eighty-one healthy adults tested, reports researchers from the University of Iowa. This group consisted of players over 50 years of age, assigned to play a computer game called Road Tour OR a computerized crossword puzzle game.
The game asked players to identify a vehicle’s image. This image displays for a brief moment at the beginning of the game then compares it to a similar image. Also, players match images of road signs from continually changing options (most of which were simply diversions.)
As the game progressed, less time was given to complete the matches. Matching required their quick-thinking skills to finish the game successfully.
Players gained the equivalent of three years of cognitive “reserve” according to researchers’ calculations after playing for 10 hours either at home or in the lab. The conclusion when they were tested on their mental skills a year later showed that those who played the quick-thinking video games could postpone mental declines in memory and other functions such as planning and reasoning. This effect could last for about three years longer than those who played crossword puzzle games. Moreover, it seemed the more the players participated in the quick-thinking games, the longer they held back the cognitive decline.
An added plus, compared to the group who did crossword puzzles, the quick-thinking game players had higher test scores on concentration and were able to switch between tasks and process new information faster.
What IF you could play a video game AND earn at the same time? A win/win for everyone!
We know that we can stop this decline and restore cognitive processing speed to people and if we know that, shouldn’t we be helping them or even ourselves? I would say, YES!
Executive functions such as memory, attention, problem-solving, and perception skills decline with age but seem to improve from simple approaches such as quick-thinking game playing. Therefore, we could conceivably help more elderly improve, avoid, or even prevent some of this decline. It goes back to the “use it or lose it phenomenon.” The bad news is that cognitive decline is real; the good news is we can do something simple about it. The question then is, WILL we?