Gaming & Brain Empowerment

Contemporary scientific research is demonstrating that gaming can be a brain-empowering activity (if played for a reasonable amount of time). The next time you hear someone say something like “I play World of Warcraft”, try not to belittle the activity.

One of the brain scientists who has become interested in brain performance during gaming is Daphne Bavelier, Ph.D. Her cognitive neuroscience laboratory at the University of Geneva, in Switzerland, has been studying the impact of action video games on brain plasticity and learning ability. The main focus of these studies has been violent first person shooter action games – such as “Call of Duty”, which in conducted tests has shown many surprising benefits.

Her findings are

  • Gamers improve vision. Gamers can distinguish between shades of grey, for example, and notice more details. Thus, games are now being developed to help patients with poor vision.
  • Gamers have a better chance to focus their attention. The explanation for this is that gamers can track more objects at one time and focus on tests for longer periods.
  • Gamers have proven themselves to be great multi-taskers; they can switch from one task to another with minimal effort.

It’s also important to acknowledge the link between gaming and a goal-oriented attitude. According to Jane McGonigal, game designer and author, people have a real sense of optimism about their abilities and a desire to get better and succeed when they play video games. A large amount of physical and mental energy is used to engage with difficult problems, and that’s the actual physiological and psychological reality of game play. Furthermore, many players of different ages report significant improvement in their cognitive abilities and decision-making processes. “WoW” player and early onset Alzheimer’s disease sufferer Bill Craig is living proof that “WoW” can be a vital part of a brain-healthy regimen to maintain cognitive function. In that way, gaming becomes a perfect combination of cognitive therapy and an enjoyable pastime.

Keep in mind, however, that excessive gaming can be hazardous to your health. To make video games highly advisable as brain-improving activities, the game designers should integrate the elements of games that improve the human brain while keeping the games entertaining.

Photo: Shutterstock

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