Can you even count how many times your mom told you to get off the computer and stop playing games when you were little? That it was a waste of time and was “rotting your brain?” Yeah, I’m sure it’s impossible to count. I do remember the feeling of marching back to my room because it was time to go do homework or study. It sucked. However, it’s time to call up mom and tell her how wrong she was when she was accusing us of wasting our time, because research now proves otherwise.
A study conducted by the researchers of the Max Planck Institute and Charité University has identified that there were regions in the brain that increased in size as a result of playing games. These brain areas, responsible for memory, spatial orientation, strategic planning, and motor skills, were noticeably larger.
The experiment was conducted by having 23 young adults play Super Mario 64, for at least 30 minutes daily, while a control group did not play the video games. The experiment spanned a duration of 2 months and showed that the group that played video games showed an increase of size in the hippocampus, cerebellum, and the right prefrontal cortex – the regions involved with memory, spatial orientation, strategic planning, and motor skills. These regions were not only larger, but also had a larger amount of gray matter as an effect of playing games.
Previously, it had been proven that there are differences in structure to the brain of a person who regularly plays video games. Now, our research is able to directly show what those differences are, and the direct impact video games have on the volume of the brain. The research solidifies the known notion that video games are good for the brain by now showing that certain regions of the brain can be furthermore developed by playing video games.
Senior Scientist, Max Planck Institute
What can be taken from this research is the possibility to use video games as a tool for those patients suffering from brain disabilities or mental disorders in which the size or volume of the brain is altered – disorders such as PTSD, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.
A co-author of the study also notes that it’s great because most patients will readily accept video games as a form of treatment rather than other forms of more complicated procedures. However, it’s been noted that further research must be conducted in other video game genres and on a wider scale before this can be used as a form of treatment. Nonetheless, you should still ring up your mother now, and tell her how science has disproven her.