Dating back to the 1980s, people have been using videogames as an example as to why adolescents have become violent. Since most video games revolve around the fighting category, people believe that young people adapt these violent behaviors and display them around other children. Meanwhile, there are people who believe that Super Mario games cause young people to lose focus. Some people don’t make these assumptions but they don’t support the use of video games either because they believe that there are far more valuable ways children can spend their time.
We’ve witnessed a lot of change with regards to how people view the video game world. In a recent study, there are benefits to spending the afternoon in front of the PlayStation.
Researchers from the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain said that adults who played video games as a child performed far better in memory-based tasks compared to individuals who had not picked up a controller even once.
At first, the researchers thought that in order to pick up these benefits, you would have to take your video gaming habits with you as you turn into an adult. Astoundingly, however, the results of their study found that the minimum requirement is that you played video games at least once as a child.
In the press release of the Open University, one of the study’s co-authors, Mark Palaus, said the following words:
“People who were avid gamers before adolescence, despite no longer playing, performed better with the working memory tasks, which require mentally holding and manipulating information to get a result.”
There were 27 people who partook in the study. They were all between the ages of 18 and 40. Most of the participants grew up playing video games. Meanwhile, the rest had zero experience working a controller.
The original aim of this study was to determine if playing video games in combination with 10 transcranial magnetic stimulation sessions for one month will help increase the memory and cognitive skills of the participants.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is defined as a non-invasive process of brain stimulation that utilizes magnetic fields to activate the nerve cells of the mind. Most of the time, this kind of procedure is used in order to cure depression. However, the authors of the study came to a theory that states that using transcranial magnetic stimulation alongside continued video gaming can be a testing mechanism to see the effect of video games on the brain development of a young person.
Palaus further explains:
“It uses magnetic waves which, when applied to the surface of the skull, are able to produce electrical currents in underlying neural populations and modify their activity.”
“We aimed to achieve lasting changes. Under normal circumstances, the effects of this stimulation can last from milliseconds to tens of minutes. We wanted to achieve improved performance of certain brain functions that lasted longer than this,”
Even though the idea proved to be useful in this study, the theory was not fully proven. The researchers tested the cognitive skills of the participants on three occasions. The first one was conducted before they started playing video games for one month. The second test was conducted after a span of one month. And then the researchers tested them again 15 days after the one-month video gaming. All the participants were tasked to play Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64.
In all those assessments, there was no indication that there is a long-term improvement in the cognitive skills of the participants.
However, they did notice something that is consistent across all participants. The participants who have had experience playing video games as children were able to complete the cognitive tests faster and have gotten higher scores in comparison to their non-video gaming counterparts.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers found that childhood gamers were also better at processing 3D objects compared to people who never played video games as a child.
Palaus said in his notes that:
“People who played regularly as children performed better from the outset in processing 3D objects, although these differences were mitigated after the period of training in video gaming, when both groups showed similar levels.”
And so we ask: what is it about video games that is so beneficial to our memory? It is said that video games have the ability to really capture the attention of the gamer. This entices the gamer to keep on playing. Aside from that, when you play a video game, the level keeps on getting more difficult. Therefore, you become more challenged and engaged.
These two things are the reasons children find video games to be one of the most fun activities to engage in. At the same time, it also has a long-term positive benefit on the mental abilities of the person.
If you need a perfect recipe for improving your cognitive skills, grab a controller and start playing.
Palaus also noted that playing video games is not a miracle worker. Therefore, if you want to learn a new language, playing Resident Evil for 20 hours straight is not going to help you learn faster.
However, these video game activities can help you to quickly grasp a new concept or to be better at multitasking. There are also some findings that suggest that playing video games at the start of your childhood can lead you to become a better decision maker as an adult.
There are also findings that support people who played video games as a child have better ability in terms of visuospatial skills. While playing video games is bound to make you selective in concentration, it also develops your ability to think faster especially in alarming situations.
These are interesting findings since it contradicts all the previous beliefs that most people have about video games. For sure, there are going to be more projects like this in the future, perhaps in countries where video games are far more popular such as the US, Australia, and England.
Enjoy this video on the subject: