Playing action video games could 'harm' brain function

Playing action video games could 'harm' brain function

Playing action video games could 'harm' brain function

One camp believes that video games are a waste of time, while another thinks it's no different than watching TV.

The results indicate that the reported benefits of playing shooting-style video games - such as improved attention and short-term memory - "might come at a cost" in terms of lost brain matter in some players, said the study's lead author, Gregory West.

However, a new study conducted at the University of Montreal suggests that in many cases, playing video games can do more harm than good.

Visitors play a video game at the Paris Games Week, a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, October 26, 2016. It was found that habitual action video game players had significantly less grey matter in their hippocampus and used response strategies at a higher rate.

As is, "players can easily choose to navigate with a response-route-following strategy without relying on the relationships between landmarks, fundamental to the spatial strategy", the researchers wrote. Episodic memory involves the ability to remember past events.

Taxi drivers in London, England, for example, have been shown to have more developed hippocampi.

There's a lot more data and some interesting MRI brain scans to be found in the full study.

When the response learners played action video games, their hippocampi atrophied; but when both types of gamers played 3D games, hippocampal grey matter increased in everyone. "As long as games are part of a balanced lifestyle, there's no evidence that they cause harmful brain changes".

Another part of the brain is the striatum which has an area named caudate. Besides these chores, the caudate will help us remember things like riding the bicycle or create habits.

However, the more the players use the caudate nucleus, the less they use the hippocampus, and as a result the hippocampus loses cells and atrophies, the researchers rued, in the paper detailed in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The study involved 51 men and 46 women.

In the second and third part of the study, 42 and 21 participants, respectively, had to play 90 hours of either an action video game (Call of Duty or Battlefield), a video game platform (Super Mario 64), or an action-role playing game (Dead Island). The findings don't apply to all kinds of action video games, though.

The takeaway? According to researchers, the spatial learners in the action game group saw an increase in grey matter in their left hippocampus, while the response learners in the group saw their right hippocampus decrease in size. "That's why we chose to do a full neuro-imaging study, scanning the brains of habitual players of action video games and comparing them to non-players, and what we saw was less grey matter in the hippocampus of habitual players".

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