That’s right, computer games aren’t that bad. In fact, research proves they may improve your cognitive powers (or let you stay smart, if there isn’t scope left for improvement!).
Video game players better at paying attention
‘Sustained attention’ (ability to focus and stay alert during a continuous activity), ‘Divided attention’ (focusing on two or more tasks simultaneously like listening music while working out) and ‘Selective attention’ (not letting distractions derail you), all 3 types of attention were found to improve with use of video games. This benefit has been proven with both strategy games (with the 2009 game League of legends) as well as with action games and can kick in after spending just 1 hour on them.
Frequent playing of video games enhances working memory
Working memory refers to short term storage of memory that can be manipulated, used for decision making and reasoning (e.g. you saw a recipe on YouTube video and then go about cooking that, read more on working memory ‘here’). Not only have several publications linked gaming to enhancement in working memory, a 2020 study found something surprising. Training adults to play Super Mario 64 (millennials surely have fond memory of this 1996 game) improved working memory specifically in those that had played video games when they were adolescents. Playing video games as a child helping in some way at least, show this article to your dad!
Tetris for Visuo-spatial and navigation skills
Do you wish to improve your skill in imagining 3D or 2D objects (e.g. imagining the solar system going around or how a house that you’re going to buy will look from different angles)? Try playing the age-old ‘Tetris’, which improved visuo-spatial skills after a 3 day training study in more than 300 adolescents.
Like playing strategy video games?
A Canadian study found that playing strategy video games improved problem solving skills and academic grades in almost 1500 high school students. This improvement was also seen with puzzle games and also in university students.
Do any actual changes occur in the brain with video games?
Attention improves with improvement of plasticity (connections) in the neuronal network of prefrontal cortex (responsible for memory and learning). Gaming also increases gray matter (your brain mass) in the hippocampus, pre-frontal cortex and cerebellum. What’s more, improvements occur in the young as well as the elderly suffering from dementia.
Which games should I play?
This can be tricky for us to suggest. However, Action video games (which may include the ‘violent’ ones, aka first and third person shooters) have been studied the most to provide these benefits. Apart from action games, strategy games (need you to do analysis, planning and device tactics such as Minecraft) come next followed by the puzzle games (figuring out patterns and solving problems under time pressure, like Cut the Rope). Keep in mind that video games can cause aggression and addiction and as a parent/ player, please deliberate on choosing the right game.
Not into games? Try playing a videogame music track from YouTube in the background while working, isn’t that a great idea! Read about natural ways to improve your memory ‘here’. Know more about our product to improve memory ‘here’. At Refine Naturals™, we believe in a holistic approach to improve memory and cognition. At Refine Naturals™, we believe “You Deserve Better than FINE!”
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- Milani L, Grumi S, Di Blasio P. Positive Effects of Videogame Use on Visuospatial Competencies: The Impact of Visualization Style in Preadolescents and Adolescents. Front Psychol [Internet] 2019 [cited 2021 Mar 16];10. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6559178/
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