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How Do Video Games Help Your Brain? Positive Effects of Video Games

Here’s a post in honour of every concerned parent who’s ever asked “How do video games help your brain?” and “Are there any positive effects of video games?”

The truth is that there are tons of positive effects of video games. Games can make you smarter, make you happier, make you relaxed and more. Here’s a look at some of the ways video games help your brain.

How Do Video Games Help Your Brain?

how to video games help your brain

1: Video Games Slow the Aging Process

A study by the University of Iowa revealed that playing games for two hours a week can help to slow the speed at which the brain decays, effectively slowing the aging process.

The study had 681 healthy people of age 50+ play 10 hours of brain training games over five to eight weeks. The seniors were given games that included crossword puzzles, picture matching games and other “brain training” style games. The participants illustrated a slowig of the aging process after playing.

Games that require mental effort, like StarCraft, are cognitively complex and require mental energy to play. Using mental energy essentially exercises your brain. The brain is like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes. Playing mentally challenging games helps to exercise and to strengthen the brain, and to slow the brain’s deterioration.

2: Playing Mario 64 increases the brain’s grey matter

mario 64 n64  brain training

German researchers conducting studies into how video games help the brain, had 23 adults play Super Mario 64 for thirty minutes a day over two months. They also took a second group of people whom were asked not to play games at all.

The researchers then used MRI machines to examine the brains of the participants. The group who had played Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day had increased grey matter in the right hippocamput, the cerebellum and the right prefrontal cortex. These are the areas of the brain used in memory, strategic planning, spatial navigation and motor skills.

Playing Super Mario 64 results in brain increase, helping with memory, navigation and motor skills.

The results of the study were so positive that the researchers suggested video games could be used to therapy in patients with reduced brain volume, post traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s.

 

Playing Strategy Games like StarCraft 2 Makes You More Intelligent

stacraft 2 legacy of the void

Anyone who’s ever played Starcraft competitively knows that it requires a great deal of intelligence and mental effort to be victorious.  British researchers this year discovered that CtarCraft and other strategy games increases the player’s “brain flexibility,” which is one of the most important aspects of human intelligence.

The research was conducted at University College London and Queen Mary. Volunteers were asked to play StarCraft for 40 hours across six weeks. The participants performed better in cognitive flexibility psychological tests, illustrating greater mental accuracy, flexibility and speed.

 

Rayman Raving Rabbids and other games help with dyslexia

ravman raving rabbids tv party

 The University of Padua conducted a study into the effects of playing video games on kids. The Italian research team revealed that fast-paced games like Rayman Raving Rabbids helps kids to improve their reading, and can help with children with dyslexia.

The researchers split participants into two groups, one of which played the fast-paced game Rayman Raving Rabbids,the other of which played a slower paced gam.

The children were then giving a reading test. Those children who played Rayman Raving Rabbids were shown to have increased their reading speed. The researchers concluded that playing fast paced action games like Rayman Raving Rabids helps boost children’s mental processing and can help beat dyslexia.

5: Video Games are excellent teachers

A fascinating study by The University of Texas Medical Branch back in November 2012

 

5. Teen Gamers End Up Better At Virtual Surgery Than Real Medical Residents took high school and college gamers and medical residents and had tested which group was better at performing virtual surgery. The test participants performed 32 different tasks related to surgery. Amazingly, the high scholl students who played video games significantly outperformed the actual medical residents.

 

6:  Video Games Relieve Pain

A study by the American Pain Society (sounds like a fun group of people) back in 2010 revealed that virtual reality video games can help to reduce anxiety and pain caused by medical procedures and chronic illness. Patients undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments reported less fear and less stress after playing virtual reality video games. Patients with burn wounds showed a 30-50 percent decrease in their pain ratings.

The researchers suggests that active games like Xbox Kinect and Wii U titles can help the brain to keep busy during stressful circumstances and therefore helps people to remove themselves from stress, anxiety and pain. The researchers also stated that playing video games increases endorphins in the brain, promoting happiness and reducing negative feelings and emotions.

Paul M Harrison

Professional esports commentator and freelance games journalist. Basically, gaming is my life. And I love it.

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