Research Says Video Games Improve the Mind

Gray matter improvements for those playing Mario 64 on DS

For those who are addicted to the many different types of video games, there is now good news regarding the addiction. A new study stemming from the journal of Molecular Psychiatry now says that video game playing effects the volume of brain gray matter in positive ways.

Grey matter is responsible for the muscle control, memory, language and sensory capabilities for a person. And now researchers from the Berlin’s Max Planck Institute of Human Development and St. Hedwig-Hospital recruited multiple adult subjects in order to play games over a two month period.

Subjects were given Mario 64 to play on a Nintendo 64 on the portable DS system. At the end of the two-month period the subjects were said to have “significant increased gray matter increases”. The findings were said to be located both in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

The horseshoe shaped section of the brain known as the hippocampus is known for the capability to cultivate memory formation, as well as connecting the sensory information to memories. While the prefrontal is involved with senses like sight and smell.

The game, Mario 64, calls upon players to maneuver through a three-dimensional space, and take an a myriad of challenges. According to researchers, the gains associated with players improving in the game with improved brain capability. Moving from a reliance on a first-person perspective to a more overarching strategy as they were forced to switch within the game.

Researchers also noted correlations between subjects’ game-play interest as well as increase in gray matter. It was as if the growth of such memory and capability held a sort of addictive quality for those playing. Researchers are now speculating that the brain has a built-in reward system involving a release of dopamine for a person who is enjoying the current activity.

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