Video games – harm or benefit?

The effects of video games on the brain depends on the nature of the game itself, and the characteristics of the brain.

The effect of video game depends on who plays. (Photo: lisafx / Depositphotos.)

Platformer Super Mario helps yepocapa become more. (Photo: pressakey.com / Flickr.com.) ”

About video games often say that they improve visual attention and short-term memory, and this really is proved by experiments. However, apart from the “pros” at video games, there are also disadvantages.

Researchers from the University of Montreal have invited one hundred volunteers, among whom were about equally men and women, pass through the virtual maze. In the maze there were several ways where you had to collect some items, and this task can be performed faster if you memorized the routes that went – that is, there should pay attention to the different surrounding signs, like stone, wood, etc .

In this orientation of the terrain we have in the brain triggers the hippocampus is a special area in the brain, which is one of the main centers of memory and at the same time plays the role of the cartographer, i.e. building a map of the surrounding landscape.

But in the maze it was possible to do otherwise – just to remember the sequence of turns right and left. In this case, it comes in another area of the brain, partly overlapping functions of the hippocampus – caudate nucleus, part of the striped body.

Caudate nucleus works with the autopilot allowing you to perform some automatic actions, and at the same time, it is included in the reinforcement system – the so-called large complex nerve centers that controls our motivation, our desires and our sense of fun.

Go along the track and through the caudate nucleus, however, it is not so much a map of the area, remembering how many actions you need to perform for rewards: remember, how many times and where you turned before, you can get to the next desired object in the maze and get a portion of pleasant sensations.

Search for the maze allowed us to separate those who build maps using yepocapa, and those who go the route with the help of the caudate nucleus – the autopilot that seeks pleasure. Then some participants were put to play games-shooters (i.e., “shooter” first-person), Call of Duty, Killzone, Borderlands 2, and others engaged in 3-D platformer series of Super Mario Bros; and those and others had to “earn” about 90 hours.

And it turned out that the game had different effects on the brain. If the game is a shooter played the man who walked on the route, subject to system reinforcement, as a result of his hippocampus decreased amount of gray matter. The authors explain this by the fact that such games are in principle inclined to promote a system of reinforcements, so that “chronic players” the hippocampus can be quite cringe as if unnecessary. We say “sort of” because the hippocampus, anyway, outside of videoswhere still needed, and the consequences from a lack of grey substance in it can be quite serious – it is known that a decrease in hippocampal accompanies depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, etc.

On the other hand, those players who relied on the terrain, linking in mind different elements of the landscape – that is, those that were initially more involved navigation skills hippocampal grey matter in it, on the contrary, become larger; that is, even in a shooter, they focused on a neutral map, not the anticipation of pleasure.

Finally a game about Mario brothers contributed to the hippocampus on both types of players – obviously, the device itself is similar games compels you to build cards in mind.

The results were published in Molecular Psychiatry. In General, all new data suggests that about video games cannot be considered to be generally harmful or even useful – in how they act on the brain, there are many nuances, which depends both on the game itself, and the characteristics of a particular person.

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