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Academic Study Finds That Playing Games Can Increase Brain Matter

Posted by Tim Latshaw

The desire to play could also have an effect

If you had to grow up with always listening to the admonishment that video games would “rot your brain,” you may find some satisfaction in more evidence pointing toward the contrary.

A study conducted by Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus suggests that gaming can cause increases in the grey matter of certain brain regions. A test group of adults were asked to conduct the oh-so-envious task of playing Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes per day over a period of 2 months. Their brains were then quantitatively measured using MRI scans.

According to the study, increases of game-playing adults’ brain volumes were found in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. These locations are responsible for functions including spatial recognition, memory formation, strategic planning and finely tuned hand motor skills. Those who reported a greater interest in playing the game also appeared to see greater growth.

Study leader Simone Kühn says the experiment shows the potential of video games in positively affecting brain development:

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.

More importantly than proving stuffy family and friends wrong, the study suggests gaming could have a therapeutic effect on those who suffer from conditions such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s dementia. A study on the effects of gaming in treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder is currently underway.

Do you think video games could become a common prescription for certain disorders in the future? Do you feel playing games has helped certain functions of your brain? Let us know below.


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User Comments (36)



NintyMan said:

Nice; I know my brain has benefited. I can definitely understand how memory can really benefit because of all the different button combos, puzzles, and the focus on judging distances in games that players have to memorize in order to play the game well.



Marioman64 said:

well duh. split second decision making and problem solving, map memorization and efficiency planning, reaction time practice and hand eye coordination, of COURSE it's good for the brain



Pit-Stain said:

"If you had to grow up with always listening to the admonishment that video games would “rot your brain,”

I hate it when this happens!



Giygas_95 said:

@7amood99 Thing is, how often do people that say video games rot your brain ever provide any evidence to support that statement?



ModernMARVEL said:

"Still, don't overdo it" That explains why I'm still brain-dead.

@Giygas_95 You'd think that after about 9 years of gaming and 11 years of school, I'd realize that, but nope, it took that comment of yours for me to finally notice. Thanks.

Now, what I wanna know is, how in Bowser's name did they manage to only play 30 minutes a day? I'd have broken that rule on day 1.



VoiceOfReason said:

I'm sure it stimulates and trains some parts of the brain. It's probably also bad for certain parts. Do I care? No. I play anyway. Most people will play whether it hurts or helps.



Haxonberik said:

I'm adding this info to the third draft of my extended essay for graduation on how videogames are benefitial. Very useful data here



Mask0Gears said:

True, but remember; everything in moderation.

Great to know all that Mario helped me.



Blue_Dread said:

Got Zelda II on 3DS virtual console a few days ago. I think my grey matter incresed three times since I started playing that game. (I hope someone gets the joke.)



idork99 said:

"According to the study, increases of game-playing adults’ brain volumes were found in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. These locations are responsible for functions including spatial recognition, memory formation, strategic planning and finely tuned hand motor skills."

Personal philosophy: if you're good at video games, you're good at driving.

No joke! I've lived by these words and I've yet to be wrong in my hypothesis! Spatial recognition, strategic planning, and finely tuned hand & motor skills are essential for safe driving and this study proves that gaming improves those qualities.



UnseatingKDawg said:

Once a girl told me video games would rot my brain. My response was, "Either that ain't true, or I have brain cells of steel." Looks like I was right.



Keep said:

Now i know how i passed the board exams... all those video games was the reason! X-D



GamerZack87 said:

Hippocampus? Wait a minute...I knew there was something fishy about the human brain! Ha! Ancient Greek mythology humour!

As an Autistic boy growing up (though I wasn't diagnosed until my teens) I became so involved with gaming that it's now my central hobby. Many of my other interests stem from it, and it's shaped who I am today: a young-at-heart gamer with an incredible imagination.



Capt_N said:

@Conellossus: Due to most gamers not liking it, since you have purchased it, you have only played Zelda 2 thrice(3 times), is that it? Or not?

@GamerZackX: For what it's worth, my eye doctor, recommended a long time ago to my parents, that it was ok to allow me playing (video, & computer/pc) games, as it helps make stronger my eyes' tracking capabilities. My eyes didn't use to have average tracking capabilities of average kids, when I was younger, among other things/capabilities of an average kid's eyes. I was born with an eye disorder that, when I was little, was not well documented, & was considered rare. I wear glasses, although I can see without them, just not as good as I can with them.



cfgk24 said:

Actually, playing some games releases adrenaline (Monster Hunter) which must have an effect (good or bad!) on your body - if you play these every day - is there a study on the effects of this?



ledreppe said:

I have to agree with games being therapeutic for people with mental health issues. I was diagnosed with mental health problems about 10 years ago, and since I got back into games with the Wii and now the Wii U I've found them very therapeutic. Who needs tablets?!



unrandomsam said:

@Marioman64 I don't modern Nintendo games will do much for that. (Don't need to memorise anything / practice / have fast reactions.)

Super Hexagon I think is the best. People say they can have 100% concentration for hours. I am fairly sure they cannot. (Someone with 100% concentration should be able to play this game indefinitely).



gamingreal said:

Yayy for science, it was kinda obvious but nice to see it proved. as an autistic child with very poor vision in my left eye i had badddd hand eye coordination, so my parents let me play games in order to improve it which seems to of worked very well. Problem is that im now an addict i played about 12hs of gta online the other day barely getting up or eating much, I think its got beyond a hobby



Luna-Harmony said:

Not shore about PTSD for playing games a nice game of gears of war or battlefield 3 would just make you more angry or a game where you kill anything.
I had ptsd for a while ty to the nhs's treatment of patents and games dident help i was playing resident evil 5 at the time.



GreatPlayer said:

I won't doubt the finding that playing video games may help increasing brain power. But treating PTSD and schizophrenia with games? I think it is more likely that video games may make patients with schizophrenia having more hallucinations and delusions (e.g., think that they are saving the world as Mario).



coolvw93 said:

I always like to see studies like this happen, just to spam all the people who says that video games are bad. I dont play them as much as I used to due to studies but I always feel like its a great way to unwind after a long day.



stonework said:

I was know that I is intelligent after I plays. I has know it.

I'm just pretending to be like one of the "I gotta learn for zhe exam" aka play CoD people.

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