Note: This article contains affiliate links (hyperlinks, widgets, or through images), which means I receive compensation if you purchase a product through them. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. Visit my disclosure page for more information.
Rather than write off video games as something that only kids play, you may want to start gaming yourself. This is especially true if you’re looking to boost your cognitive abilities. They can provide you with a means of escape and a way to engage in an intriguing narrative. Not to mention, they can buff up your brain! Interested in learning more?
Exercise the Brain
Several scientific studies have been done that provide testimony to the fact that the quality of life for those who are mentally ill or disabled could improve via video games.
Specifically, studies reveal that your brain adds grey matter, improves hardwired skills, and sharpens learning skills as the result of playing video games. Diving deeper, it paves the way to better information organization, spatial orientation, memory, and fine motor skills.
Even if you don’t have a disease like Alzheimer’s or a medical condition that shrinks the overall size of your brain, you can still reap the many benefits that come with playing video games.
How It Works
In one study, scientists studied a group that played a racing game for two months for 30 minutes a day. For comparison, the scientists also studied a group that didn’t play video games for two months. All participants in both groups had their brains measured with MRI at the beginning and end of the two-month period.
The results of the study were two-fold. First, it backed the results of previous studies that showed a connection between brain size increase and playing video games. Second, it proved that there are specific areas of the brain that can be trained through playing video games.
Parts of the Brain Affected by Video Games
Three major areas of the brain commonly light up while playing video games: the cerebellum, the prefrontal cortex, and the right hippocampus. The cerebellum is in charge of fine motor skills, making it one of the more obvious parts of the brain impacted by playing video games. Quick responses and assessments are staples in most games, making it the perfect tool to boost your cerebellum’s capabilities.
As for the prefrontal cortex, it’s the part of the brain that aids in social behavior, decision-making, cognitive planning, and personality. As for how this part of the brain is beefed up by playing video games, many games require you to think about how you’ll interact with objects in the game and how to plan your moves in advance before making them.
The right hippocampus in the brain helps you gather and interpret information. It also aids with short- and long-term memory. Remembering specific patterns or sequences in games is also rather common.
Besides noting which parts of the brain are the most engaged whilst playing video games, there’s something else that’s essential to point out. The brain is more engaged when the players are more engaged with making an effort in beating the game. If a player takes a more haphazard approach to playing the game, she or he won’t reap the same brain-boosting benefits as someone giving the game 100%.
Ties To Solving Real-World Problems
The lessons learned playing video games can be carried over into the real world. Some games are aimed at having players plan and design an entire city layout or design a building. Such skills are useful in the real world, giving kids a head start in certain classes. Additionally, younger players have a better idea of how city planning and building construction works.
Students can also pick up history lessons while playing video games, as some contain historically accurate settings, characters, and stories. Such information can be a good way for kids to convince their parents to let them have extra screen time.
The benefits of video games don’t just stop at the mental, they offer plenty of physical benefits, too. Fitness video games and what are known as “exergames” can help players lose weight while they play.
Those who may feel intimidated by actual gyms, don’t have time to go to the gym, or otherwise find it hard to motivate themselves to exercise more may find it easier to get in a workout when it’s done so through video games.
The minds of kids and adults alike can benefit greatly from video games. Rather than rot your brain, they can actually improve it!
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.