Are Video Games Actually Good for Your Brain?

Source: The Wall Street Journal - wsj.com

Well here’s something new: video games might actually be good for your brain. Recent studies by several universities suggest that gaming can indeed alter brain chemistry but these changes might actually be good ones.

The Universities of Rochester and Minnesota found that those who played violent games, such as Call of Duty, enjoyed up to 25% faster decision making skills without forfeiting accuracy.

Canada’s McMaster University discovered that the game Unreal Tournament had the potential to improve eyesight in adults born with eye problems such as cataracts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, studies at the University of Rochester also showed that “practiced game players can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared with the four that someone can normally keep in mind.”

When it comes to kids, a study of almost 500 middle schoolers that took place over a three-year period showed that scores on standardized tests of creativity were increased the more the students participated in video and computer games.

“In contrast, using cellphones, the Internet, or computers for other purposes had no effect on creativity,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Linda Jackson, the leader of the children’s study said, “much to my surprise, it didn’t matter whether you were playing aggressive games or sport games, not a bit.”

Although these new studies show exciting and positive effects in relation to game playing, negative effects still may exist. An article on PopMatters explores the findings of Iowa State University’s Douglas A. Gentile who conducted a similar study to the one mentioned above but with subjects in Singapore.

“It is possible that electronic media use can impair attention necessary for concentration even as it enhances the ability to notice and process visual information,” states Gentile. “Certainly games (and other media) have many potential benefits and potential harms. The reason I study the media and children is to try to learn how to maximize the benefits and minimize the potential harms.”

What do you think? Are video games more helpful or hurtful to the human brain?

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