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Do video games help or hinder your brain ?

By T.K. Randall
August 11, 2017 · Comment icon 52 comments

Can video games benefit your brain ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Kenny Louie
Scientists have been studying the impact different types of games have on certain areas of the brain.
While the physical inactivity associated with long gaming sessions can have a negative impact on general fitness, there's no denying that video games can offer important health benefits as well.

In addition to improving reflexes, some types of games can also benefit the player by improving problem solving, spatial awareness and in the case of online gaming, even social confidence.

In a recent study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, scientists used an MRI scanner to analyze what sort of impact frequent gaming sessions have on the brain.

For the test, 43 people who typically did not play any games were asked to spend 90 hours over 10 weeks playing either action games ( such as Call of Duty ) or platformers ( such as Super Mario ).
The results indicated that those who played action games lost gray matter in the hippocampus while those who played platformers actually gained gray matter in the hippocampus.

"In the majority of action video games, there's an onscreen GPS overlaid on the screen," said study lead author Gregory West. "There's also wayfinding markers overlaid over the environment, and we know from past studies that when people are encouraged to navigate using these cues, really, they're not using their hippocampal memory system to navigate."

"It's kind of like your brain's autopilot, you could think of it that way."

Those who do play action games however should not be too concerned by the results.

"If I had to recommend a type of video game to someone, it would be a 3D platform or logic puzzle game," said West. "The evidence is clear at this point that these games can be beneficial."

Source: | Comments (52)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #43 Posted by XenoFish 7 years ago
I have killed so many people and the only thing hurt is their egos. Which is better than real dead bodies. I play a lot of retro games on PC sometimes. Just to relieve stress. I got a clicker game running almost 24/7.
Comment icon #44 Posted by Ruby04 7 years ago
That's what I mean, you don't physically harm anyone.
Comment icon #45 Posted by XenoFish 7 years ago
You know it would be nice if wars were fought using video games. Cheaper too.
Comment icon #46 Posted by Klownzilla 7 years ago
Haha i can just see it now...even though i'm sure this wasn't exactly what you meant. The leaders of the world fighting over...well whatever and settle everything with a Tekken tournament. :-D
Comment icon #47 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
That's what they told Ender... 
Comment icon #48 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Except the study referenced here showed that your grey matter is shrunk when you play shooters like Call of Duty.
Comment icon #49 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
I read the study I culled the info from. I read the article, too. It specifically outs CoD as shrinking your grey matter.
Comment icon #50 Posted by Hi-NRG Eurobeat Man 7 years ago
From personal experience, I find that too much video games overtime hinders your creative abilities, and you have to unplug for a while in order to get them back.
Comment icon #51 Posted by XenoFish 7 years ago
I think puzzle games would be the best at flexing your brain.
Comment icon #52 Posted by I'mConvinced 7 years ago
I find the whole video game argument moronic if truth be told.  1. Video games as a term makes no sense. These days it is used to cover such a broad spectrum of interactive entertainment that using a single experience (CoD in this case) to generalise about the whole genre is silly. 2. Nobody goes mad, drops dead (outside of pre-existing medical conditions) or explodes from playing a single 'turn' on a game. This means we can say there is a reasonable level at which video games do not harm us. 3. Too much of anything harms us. There is an upper limit to everything, too much breathing (hyperven... [More]

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