Health Technology

Impact of Video Games on Cognition

Brain games

A video game is usually an electronic game which  involves human computer interaction with a user defined interface to produce visual response or feedback  on a video friendly device, either a TV screen or computer monitor.

Brain games

Brain games

A newly published article highlighted the differences in video contents, dynamics, and the mechanics involved in different video games and how they affect  human cognition. Dr. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seltz, the authors, argued thoroughly that video game themes are so varied that appropriate analysis should be carried out on them before further conclusions are made as regarding their benefits to the brain.

“Studies carried out previously have shown massive difference in most cognitive functions in people who do not play video games versus people who actually do”, the researchers said. For instance, video game players are known to be able to perform more tasking and complex projects with less effort compared to most non-video-game players.

The study, published on the Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain Sciences journal, claimed that Video games could exercise a whole lot of perceptual and cognitive functions in humans. Some games would normally require a high degree of skill in performing relatively basic perceptual and cognitive tasks whereas others can demand higher-level cognitive skills, such as the ability to solve difficult logical problems.

The Researchers stated that participants who play any action video game for at least ten hours usually obtain significant performance improvements on both spatial tasks and attentional task, while participants who played a maze game for the same length of time showed no gains.

“More than a century of experimentation in psychology has shown that many higher-level cognitive processes can be modified by training, and so it is reasonable to suppose that the practice offered by playing video games may produce changes in basic attentional processes because they are influenced by higher-level cognitive processing,” the study explained.

Study researcher C. Shawn Green, stated that both intervention and cross-sectional studies have shown that action video game experience is associated with enhancements in numerous basic perceptual tasks including those involving contrast sensitivity, visual acuity and crowding , peripheral vision , and temporal processing.

Collectively, these are consistent with the fact that action games require responding quickly to important stimuli that are often similar to their backgrounds in their colorations and features, and typically occur in somewhat cluttered environments.

“Many studies demonstrate that ‘action’ video game play improves visual attentional skills, such as the ability to find a particular target from within a large field of view when the target is surrounded by task-irrelevant distracting items, or to track a small subset of moving items from within a larger field of visually identical moving items,” the study explained.

According to Researchers, video games are known to be highly physiologically arousing and activate reward systems of the brain that drive brain plasticity. Thus, one can say that there is a strong scientific basis to suspect that video games, when designed properly, have what it takes to strongly alter the brain and behavior.

My question remains, “If Playing Action Video Games can lead to Many Cognitive Benefits, Should We Encourage More Action Video Game Play?”

Source: Green S, Seitz A. The Impact of Video Games on Cognition (And how The Government Can Guide The Industry). Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain Sciences. 2015.

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