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?