A few years ago, there were many claims being made about how so-called brain games could increase mental acuity and intelligence. There were even theories that games could play a role in slowing down the progress of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These were never proven, and the truth behind them continues to be debated and is now being widely debunked. But what has been found, in a properly conducted and peer-reviewed scientific study, is that the playing of video games can actually increase the size of players’ brains.
This information comes in a report developed in a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus. The research found that not only could the frequent playing of video games increase so-called grey matter, it can also develop parts of the brain responsible for controlling memory, spatial awareness and fine motor skills.
“Super Mario Odyssey” (CC BY 2.0) by othree
In the study, scientists took two groups of adults and charged the first group with the task of playing Super Mario 64 for half an hour a day for eight weeks, while the second group didn’t play any video games at all. Using magnetic resonance imaging, scientists measured the sizes of all the participants’ brains before and after the study and found, to quote the report, “a direct link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase”.
There were three main areas of the brain which were shown to have increased in size: the prefrontal cortex, the right hippocampus, and the cerebellum.
The prefrontal cortex is the section of the brain which controls decision-making, human interaction, personality, and other cognitive functions. It’s only logical to assume that this will be developed by playing not just Super Mario 64 but by all kinds of games that involve decision-making and thought. This has been well-received by the increasing number of gamers around the world – with the internet continuously adding to its repertoire of games. For instance, Steam, a video game sharing platform, has noted a steady increase in interested parties, and at the same time, comparison platforms such as BonusFinder Canada, which offer advice on the best online casino, have become more important. This shows that gaming is now playing an essential role in many people’s daily life, which is why studies such as the above mentioned are crucial. The positive effect could be especially true of games like blackjack, in which a lot of information needs to be processed quickly.
The right hippocampus part of the brain is where we actively process and store the data that we are receiving and which goes to create both our long and short term memory. It’s thought that the experience of recording actions in gameplay, and subsequently processing them, led to the enlargement of this particular area.
The third and final part of the brain that was affected was the cerebellum. This is a real powerhouse and control centre of the organ as it directs all movements from muscle contractions to fine motor skills. The need for manual dexterity in playing any video game very obviously has an effect on the cerebellum and this is why musicians have also been found to have bigger brains too.
Next time anyone gets on your case about wasting time playing your favourite video games you’ll have the perfect response – you’re not just playing, you’re taking your brain to the gym!
Robert J. Smith is still early into his career as tech reporter but has already had his work published in many major publications including JoyStiq and Android Authority. In regards to academics, Robert earned a degree in business from Fordham University. Robert has passion for emerging technology and covers upcoming products and breakthroughs in science and tech.