Gaming has become an increasingly popular pastime in recent years, with millions of people around the world spending hours every day playing video games. While gaming is often criticized for its potential negative impact on mental health and cognitive function, there is a growing body of research that suggests it may actually have some positive effects on the brain.
One study in particular focuses on improvement on cognitive functions: “The influence of video game experience on performance on cognitive tasks” by Dye, Green, and Bavelier (2009): This study found that gamers had better visual attention, spatial reasoning, and multitasking abilities than non-gamers.
Here are some of the most popular and reputable research studies on how gaming affects the human brain:
Improves cognitive function
A study by Dye, Green, and Bavelier (2009) found that gamers had better visual attention, spatial reasoning, and multitasking abilities than non-gamers. This suggests that playing video games could improve cognitive function in areas such as problem-solving and decision-making.
Increases grey matter in the hippocampus
Another study by West et al. (2017) found that playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 can increase grey matter in the hippocampus, a brain region important for memory and spatial navigation, in older adults. This suggests that gaming could help to prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Leads to increased brain activity
Using fMRI, a study by Kühn et al. (2011) showed that playing video games can lead to increased activity in brain regions associated with attention, visuospatial skills, and working memory. This suggests that gaming could be a useful tool for cognitive training and rehabilitation.
Improves visual attention
A study by Green and Bavelier (2003) found that playing action video games can improve visual attention, especially in tasks requiring divided attention. This suggests that gaming could be used to improve attentional control and performance in a variety of tasks.
However, it’s not all good news. A meta-analysis of over 130 studies by Anderson et al. (2010) found that exposure to violent video games can increase aggression in players. This suggests that gaming could have negative effects on mental health and behavior in some cases.
Overall, these studies suggest that gaming can have both positive and negative effects on the human brain. While it’s clear that gaming can improve cognitive function, attention, and brain activity, it’s also important to be aware of the potential negative effects of exposure to violent video games. As with any activity, it’s important to balance the benefits and risks of gaming and to use it in moderation.
Meanwhile, not all effects are entirely positive. As several scientific research has long explored the potential effects of video gaming on the brain, some findings often pointing to negative impacts on cognitive functions and psychological well-being.
Recent studies have once again highlighted the negative effects of gaming, suggesting that excessive video gaming can have detrimental effects on the brain’s structure, function, and development.
One such study conducted by the University of Montreal found that excessive gaming can lead to reduced grey matter in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and emotional regulation.
Increases memory deficiency
The researchers found that regular video gaming for more than nine hours a week resulted in a decrease in the hippocampal volume, which could lead to memory deficits and difficulties in regulating emotions.
Moreover, excessive video gaming can have negative impacts on the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain responsible for executive functions such as decision-making, impulse control, and planning. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology showed that prolonged gaming can lead to a decrease in grey matter density in the prefrontal cortex, which could lead to impaired decision-making and an increased risk of impulsive behavior.
Other studies have shown that video gaming can have negative effects on psychological well-being, including increased aggression and addiction-like behavior. A study published in the journal Addiction found that gaming addiction was associated with lower levels of psychological well-being and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Moreover, excessive gaming can lead to changes in dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Research published in the journal Translational Psychiatry showed that prolonged gaming led to a decrease in dopamine receptor availability, which could lead to an increased risk of addiction and decreased pleasure from other activities.
While online gaming can be a fun and engaging activity, excessive gaming can have detrimental effects on the brain’s structure, function, and development. Many research suggest that regular gaming for more than nine hours a week can lead to decreased hippocampal volume, reduced grey matter density in the prefrontal cortex, and changes in dopamine levels. Moreover, gaming addiction can lead to lower levels of psychological well-being and increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Therefore, it is essential to be aware of both potential effects to your brain and overall well-being as well as engaging in such activities in moderation.