Research study: Playing video games can increase volume of regions in the brain
Playing video games can increase volume of regions in the brain that deal with spatial navigation, strategic planning, and memory and motor skills, according to a new research assessment from Berlin.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus conducted the study, which can be seen in the journal Molecular Psychiatry for Human Development.
According to the authors, since playing games is a "highly pervasive activity, providing a multitude of complex cognitive and motor demands that can be seen as an intense training of several skills," there may be a link to these on-screen experiences and an increase in brain volume.
Their studies show that they’re right.
The study involved 23 adults with an average age of 24. They were required to play a half an hour of Super Mario 64 everyday for two months, while a control group did not play any games during the same period.
What the researchers found was "significant gray matter increase" in three areas of the brain: the right hippocampal formation, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and bilateral cerebellum. Researchers also found that the changes were more noticeable as the participants' desire to play the game increased.
"While previous studies have shown differences in brain structure of video gamers, the present study can demonstrate the direct causal link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase. This proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games," said Simone Kühn, senior scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and the leader of the study.
Kühn and his colleagues believe that, based on this study, playing video games could help sufferers of diseases that shrink the brain, such as Alzheimer's.