Still, don't overdo it

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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