Study finds playing video games gives a boost to certain regions of the brain

By on November 5, 2013, 7:15 PM

I was always told growing up that playing video games was a waste of time. Turns out, those people were wrong. A new study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that video gaming causes increases in the brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine motor skills.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charite University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus in Berlin asked 23 adult test subjects to play Super Mario 64 using a Nintendo XXL for 30 minutes daily over the course of two months. Similarly, a control group didn’t play any video games during the same time period.

Brain scans revealed the gamers had a significant increase in grey matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. This of course isn’t the first study to investigate the effects of gaming on the human brain but it does demonstrate a direct casual link between video gaming and volumetric brain increase.

According to study leader and scientist Simone Kuhn, this proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games. With that knowledge, the team is hopeful that video games could one day be used as therapy for those with mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia.

One has to wonder, however, how much the game being played has to do with which areas of the brain are being stimulated. Would the researchers have come to the same conclusion had the test subjects been playing a different game?




User Comments: 14

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ikesmasher said:

Id like to see, out of curiosity, this same test done for say, hours a day, or something like.

2 people like this | lchu12 lchu12 said:

Yes, get the our vets with PTSD to play battlefield 4...actually even without PTSD, I stayed away from those games for awhile after my time away.

1 person liked this | 9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ooh, put the same test against television watchers! I've always heard that the TV will rot your brain because its a sedentary and passive activity that keeps you from engaging in more meaningful exercise.

At least gamers can now show that they're exercising parts of the brain! =)

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sheesh, maybe those who thought there would not be any effects, needs to start playing games so it will increase there chances of actually thinking.

1 person liked this | JC713 JC713 said:

And just because I read this on reddit this morning, I made sure to play BF4 before studying for my exams today. Lets see if it works!

1 person liked this | Littleczr Littleczr said:

Wonder if all the time spent playing warcraft 3 mad me smarter.

1 person liked this | jester376 said:

Well while video games may increase some of the brain functions, its not good to be a game addict either. You need to study and do different things while playing videogames in between those things somewhere. If all you do is play video games, you're going to have a well developed small part of the brain while most of the brain remains undeveloped, and starts to fall into a state of stupidity.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Best example of hand eye coordination lol

Guest said:

This isn't really that surprising. It may be a game for entertainment, but you still have to think to play it. Some games incorporate reaction time, fine motor skills and strategy in degrees the average person would never experience as part of their day to day. This is a 2 month study involving 30 minutes a day of a *relatively* tame video game in regards to complexity - the motor control, game physics and strategy are relatively simple to master (this is arguably overstated). I'd like to see a study of someone who plays strategy games or real time physics based games with high skill ceilings year after year. I've been doing it for 20 solid years now and I can (in my opinion) make a stiff argument about translation to real world metrics, though I've no EEG attached to my face. Its surely debatable, but food for thought.

PS - Forced advertisement in the captcha is super lame, but I get it...

Twixtea said:

You know camping in cs, strategic planning an shit

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Does this explain why Jonathan Wendell is so swollen headed?

Guest said:

They forgot to mention that it also shrinks the tiny region of the brain responsible for telepathy.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Well no sh*t sorry, but this was assumed...

davislane1 davislane1 said:

I think it's time for me to build some uranium mines. I strongly suggest everyone on this forum sign a treaty with me immediately.

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