– Action Video Games Can Damage Brain:
According to Quebec researchers, scientists should think twice before offering their patients to play video games to stimulate their brain functions. Because in many cases, this activity can do more harm than good.
This is a debate that is still difficult to resolve today: can video games be beneficial for health, or on the contrary promote violence, addiction and other cognitive disorders? While studies have shown that video games can have a positive influence on young people on various levels such as the development of cognitive and spatial functions. Nevertheless researchers at the University of Montreal leave a little warning.
Their recent study indicates that it is true that video games are good for short-term memory, but that some of them, those of first-person shooter(FPS video games), could cause brain atrophy if they are played too frequently. . Especially people who are used to playing these types of video games often are more likely to have less gray matter in their hippocampus which is an essential part of the brain.
And the weaker the hippocampus, the greater the risk of suffering from mental illness (depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder). “There is evidence that video games are beneficial for some cognitive systems, especially those related to visual attention and short-term memory,” says Gregory West, who conducted the study. there could be a cost to that, that is, repercussions on the hippocampus. ”
Spacial memory is not always solicited:
Researchers decided to undertake a comprehensive neuroimaging study, comparing brain images of people who regularly play action video games with people who do not play it. They noticed that there was less gray matter in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that helps to orient and remember past experiences) of the players for a simple reason:
This is due to the fact that the practice of these video games stimulates another part of equal importance in the brain, the striatum, made up of what is called the caudate nucleus. In fact, 85% of the players tested used this part of the brain to navigate through video game. The caudate nucleus acts as a kind of “autopilot” and a “reward system”, it also helps to build habits and remind us how to do things, like riding a bicycle or returning home after work.
However, if the hippocampus is less busy, it loses cells and atrophy, says the study. Researchers say that “if action video games result in decreases of gray matter in the hippocampus, care must be taken when encouraging children, young adults, and other adults to play to strengthen their cognitive skills such as short-term visual memory and visual attention. ”
Better action video games are needed:
They also indicate that action-oriented video game therapy is not recommended for patients with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, or post-traumatic stress. People who all have less gray matter in their hippocampus. In their conclusions, they call out video game makers to change the design of their products.
They say: “Unfortunately nowadays, players can easily choose to navigate a game without the need to create links between landmarks, a fundamental mechanism of spatial learning,”. To make it clear, for players to more frequently adopt a spatial learning, (associated with increases in gray matter in the hippocampus during the course of the video game), researches recommend video games designed without a built-in GPS system or navigation aid.
They conclude with: “It is possible to encourage players using a stimulus response strategy (related to the caudate nucleus) to adopt spatial learning strategies to counter the negative effects on the hippocampus system,”. Note that this study does not address the theme of “serious game” that are most often developed to strengthen the psychosocial skills of children.
Keywords: Action Video Games Can Damage Brain