Video games might be good for the brain

Possibly good for the brain
Study shows better cognitive performance in children who play video games

Researchers studied 2,000 children between the ages of nine and 10, half of whom play video games regularly. The results suggest that the children who played video games performed better on the tasks set.

Contrary to popular belief, video games may have a positive impact on the development of children’s cognitive skills. This is suggested by a large-scale US scientific study, the preliminary results of which were published in the journal Jama Network Open on Monday. Among other things, the scientists evaluated the brain images of around 2,000 children aged nine and ten who had taken part in a comparative test on the possible effects of video games.

The children were divided into two groups: the first group consisted of subjects who never play video games, the second of those who spend at least three hours a day playing such games.

Both groups were given the same two tasks. In the first task, they were shown arrows pointing left or right and had to press the appropriate direction button as quickly as possible. Also, they shouldn’t press anything when they see a stop sign.

In the second task, the children were shown the faces of people. They were then asked whether or not subsequent portraits showed the same people as before.

Using statistical methods, the scientists came to the conclusion that the group of video-playing children performed the two tasks clearly better than the other group.

During the test, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images of the subjects’ brains were also taken. In the brains of the video-gaming children, more activity was seen in areas responsible for attention and memory.

The results raise the possibility that video games might provide a “cognitive training experience” with measurable effects, the researchers write.

However, it is not yet clear whether better cognitive performance is the incentive for children to devote themselves to video games or, conversely, whether this better performance is only the result of video gaming, said the study’s lead author, University psychologist Bader Chaarani of Vermont, a.

The scientists hope to gain clearer insights as their investigations continue. Chaarani – according to his own statement an enthusiastic video gamer himself – warned against understanding the previous findings as an invitation to excessive video games. Sitting in front of the screen for too long is “overall bad for mental health,” he said.


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