The Effect of Video Games on the Brain

Playing video games is entertaining. Game players spend 3 billion hours each week glued in front of their screens. Because of the popularity of video games, scientists studied the effect of video games on behavior and the brain.

In the United States, at least 150 million people play video games at least 3 hours weekly. On the average, the American gamer is 35 years old. 72% of the video gamers are adults. According to a survey, 71% of parents approve of video games for their children because they affect their kids positively.

In 2016, the sales of video games were at 24.5 billion units. The best-selling games were Grand Theft Auto V, Battlefield 1, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. These games are either action-adventure or first-person shooter. Sales of these two genres accounted for 22.5% and 27.5% of the total sales, respectively. Also, these games are often blamed for causing addiction and violence, and rousing aggression.

Research upon research did not prove the connection between violence and video games. Scientists were unable to link real acts of violence and playing video games.

How the Brain Changes through Video Gaming

More evidence shows that video games affect the brain, and even change its different regions. Scientists summarized 116 scientific studies to show the influence of video games on behaviors and the brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published the findings.

Marc Palaus, who first authored the review said that studies revealed that video games change the performance and structure of the brain. For instance, studies in the review revealed that players who played video games showed improvements in attention, including selective attention and sustained attention.

In addition, the brain’s different regions are more efficient in people who play video games. The players do not need to activate the regions to focus on demanding tasks. Also, their brain regions responsible for visuospatial skills increase in competence and size. Over the long term, video gamers had enlarged right hippocampus.

Video games are addictive and can be a disorder. Gaming addicts had structural and functional changes in the neural reward system. By exposing them to video games, their brains react, but such reactions may not alter real-life situations. Video games have positive and negative aspects. Thus people have to accept the video gaming complexity.

The Benefit of Brain-Training Games

Florida State University researchers said that people must be suspicions of advertisements that promote brain-training games as a tool to increase brain performance. They said that there is no scientific proof to that claim.

People believe that these brain-training apps will prevent cognitive disorders or memory loss. But, researchers tested these games and did not find any proof of the claims. According to Professor Neil Charness, people can train to excel at working memory tasks. But, such skills are not applicable to other tasks. For example, a person who excels at crossword puzzles will not remember where he put his keys.

According to Charness, aerobic exercise can help enhance cognitive function because some studies discovered that aerobic activity could enhance the brain. The research did not discover that mental activity can improve the brain.