Parents may have to rethink stopping their kids from playing video games in the future. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has found evidence of video games improving working memory in people.
The current pandemic has had a significant impact on the video game industry. With travel restrictions and strict lockdown orders, most people have turned to video games as a pastime, increasing sales worldwide.
While some may argue that’s not the healthiest thing for your brain, researchers beg to differ.
Did You Play Video Games as a Child?
Previous researches have shown that playing video games can cause structural and functional changes in the brain. Studies showed regions of the brain responsible for attention and visuospatial skills were more efficient in gamers.
Dr. Palaus considers video games as the perfect cognitive training tool because they provide the gamer with multiple challenges that require constant use of the brain’s resources.
Recently, researchers at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) conducted a study to assess the effect of video game training on specific cognitive functions.
Participants Played Super Mario
14 women and 13 men took part in the month-long study. They were all between the ages of 18 to 40 years. Individuals with a history of playing video games for more than 3 hours per week were excluded from the sample.
Assessments were conducted before the start of the training, after it ended and, 15 days after the end of the training. Moreover, the participants underwent 10 sessions of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating the brain’s activity.
Participants played Super Mario 64, a 3D platform adventure game, for the video game training.
Researchers combined TMS and video game training to enhance cognitive performance in participants.
Participants were assessed on visuo-manual coordination, goal-oriented behavior, behavior on facing obstacles, and goal achievement such as defeating an enemy or finding a hidden object.
Video Game Training Produced no Cognitive Enhancement
However, much to their disappointment, there were no changes in the cognitive performance of the participants. Therefore, researchers decided to explore other variables such as age, gender, and early video gaming experience, that could have an effect on their results.
Their results showed that participants with a history of playing video games as a child performed better in memory tasks as compared to those without experience.
In conclusion, the study provides us with important information on the benefits of video games as well as, the limitations to brain stimulation.
Palaus, M., et al. (2020) Cognitive Enhancement via Neuromodulation and Video Games: Synergistic Effects?. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2020.00235.
Marc Palaus et al, Neural Basis of Video Gaming: A Systematic Review, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00248