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Playing Video Games Can Have Measurable Improvements On Brain Functions, Study Finds

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Playing Video Games Can Have Measurable Improvements On Brain Functions, Study Finds

Too much TV will rot your brain. Carrots help you see in the dark. Nan smells like wine because she eats a lot of grapes. As children, we were fed a lot of lies by adults. Naturally, it turns out most of what our parents/guardians told us were sneaky tricks to try and get us to do things their way... including that age-old belief that video games were bad for us.

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How many of you guys had, or still have, a strict time limit when it comes to gaming time? Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that we should enjoy everything in moderation and that parents should monitor how much time their kids spend in virtual worlds... but in hindsight half an hour on weeknights and an hour or two at weekends seems a bit harsh. No wonder it took me so long to finish most of my games.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Credit: Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Credit: Nintendo

The good news for any kids with strict parents or guardians reading this? You don't have to suffer the same fate I did when I was small. See, it turns out that playing video games as a child (under the age of 14) for at least a few hours a week can have measurable and demonstrable improvements on brain function that last into adulthood. Go and tell this to your primary care provider immediately.

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This joyous news comes via a study conducted by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. The study originally aimed to find whether or not transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with gaming would impact brain functions. That turned out to be a dead end, but researchers found that the act of gaming alone provided a level-up to memory, spatial understanding, and response times.

Incredibly, this also led to the conclusion that those of us who played video games in their childhood were able to carry those benefits into adulthood - even if they hadn't touched a video game since they were a kid. I guess it's just like riding a bike.

Super Mario 64 / Credit: Nintendo
Super Mario 64 / Credit: Nintendo
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Comparing a group of adults who'd never played games as children (pour one out) against a group that had, the study recorded a baseline of the participants' cognitive skills. Following this, both groups were given the amazing job of playing Super Mario 64 for 1.5 hours a day, every day for ten days. Cognitive skills were then measured again following this period, and then another 15 days later with no more exposure to video games in the interim.

The results found that those who hadn't gamed as kids scored lower on the first cognitive tests. Following their period of playing Super Mario 64, however, they soon caught up and had similar scores to the group who played video games when they were kids.

There are still questions to be asked and data to be assessed, given that this wasn't the original point of the study... but we can rest easy for now knowing that video games definitely don't rot your brain. Take that, mum and dad.

Featured Image Credit: Nintendo/CD Projekt RED/Rockstar Games

Topics: Super Mario 64, Nintendo

Ewan Moore
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