8 Ways Playing Video Games Can Benefit Your Brain


Video games encompass one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world today. Games include all ages and demographics and come in multiple genres and in many different forms. With so many people enjoying video games one question is often asked: How does playing video games affect our minds?

Many scientists have come up with their own ideas and hypothesis to answer that very question, and they invariably have views on how gaming might impact the brain, and actually help it. Here are ten ways video games affect our brain.


1. Playing video games helps improve the brain's balance

Believe it or not, the human ability to have proper balance to walk around upright is an important function maintained by the brain, and equilibrium is a quality which can become greatly affected as people get older. According to a study by the University of Illinois in Chicago, playing video games can actually improve the balance and gait of senior citizens. The study found that seniors who were tested after playing video games had an improved sense of balance compared to those who didn't play.


2. Video games improve the brain's ability to read and comprehend

Children with dyslexia showed an improvement in their reading and comprehension abilities after frequent sessions playing video games. Dyslexia is a neurological medical condition that originates in the brain and makes it difficult for people to read, write and spell. Research cited by Cell.com claimed that video could provide potential relief for children affected by the disorder. Specifically, the research results suggested that video games could help reading and comprehension skills in children because playing the games can increase their attention span, which is a skill crucial for reading.


3. Playing video games improves the brain's flexibility

A study recently published in the 'Plus One' journal stated that video games can actually promote an increase in the brain's cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility refers to our brain's ability to shift quickly from one concept to another. The study examined how gaming could enhance that ability. Players were tested using games with real-time strategy, and it was discovered that a rapid switch between multiple sources of information required to play the game incited an increase in cognitive flexibility. In short, intense gaming sessions whereby participants needed to manipulate multiple information sources in rapid sequence helped improve the flexibility of their brain.


4. Video games help the brain's perception of visual data

A study by 'Live Science' discussed how video games improve the brain's perception of visual data and colours. How does this work? The study reasoned that playing video games, in particular, action games, can help the brain in this way because the games invite players to identify a large number of objects in a cluttered state. This aids young people in visually discerning different colours that are very close in terms of their shades. The study focused on players working with action games like 'Call of Duty' and 'Unreal Tournament.' People who played these two games tested with a 42% improvement in their perception of different colours, giving them a greater sense of contrast, the sensitivity of visual data and colours.


5. Playing video games induces creativity, logic and problem-solving

Playing 'Angry Birds' is about more than just tossing a bunch of feathery friends at frightened pigs. There is actually a method to the madness. When you tackle a level in Angry Birds you actually have to think about the best way to the top of the complex structures the pigs have created. As a result, players have to put on their thinking caps when tackling the difficult challenges in the game and think of the best ways to solve the problems ahead of them. So, whether it's 'Cut the Rope,' 'Angry Birds,' or 'Dark Souls' these games provoke the brain's problem-solving logic to come up with creative solutions. A bit like when Alexander the Great realized that one does not untie the Gordian Knot, you simply slice through it with your sword.


6. Improving hand-eye coordination

Who says video games don't offer transferable skills that can help you later in life? In fact, a study at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center stated that playing video games on a regular basis helps young people improve their hand-eye coordination for things like complex medical procedures. The study showed that surgeons who grew up playing the games benefited from the training and that the playing experience gave them an extra edge when conducting laparoscopic surgical procedures. They were also better at operating robotic devices for minimally invasive surgery. These processes are very sensitive and require precise hand-eye coordination. Playing video games can improve those skills.


7. Gaming improves the brain's multitasking skills

The same study went on to test people who played video games between two and four hours per week, and who were then tested using suturing drills. The test subjects who played video games tested significantly better, faster and with fewer errors than subjects who didn't play games during the study.


8. Playing video games boosts the brain's grey matter

Do video games actually help people have greater control over small movements in their body and motor skills? Researchers in Poland believe this to be the case. According to a study conducted at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, playing video games could potentially boost the amount of grey matter in parts of the brain. This leads to the idea that video gamers could have better control over small body movements. The study indicated that people who play video games have more grey matter in two areas of the brain that correlate with learning motor skills compared to subjects who were not gamers. In addition, gamers were found to have quicker reaction times, which is a reflection of those games where a split second lapse can mean the difference between victory and sudden death.


Do you play video games? And do you agree that your brain is being affected in this way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Meanwhile, happy gaming!

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