A University of Vermont study found that those who play three or more hours a day, on average, perform better on cognitive and memory tests than their peers.
Games have long been associated with violence, antisocial behavior and health problems in young people. But researchers have found that gaming can be good for brain development.
The teens had their brains scanned while they completed a series of tests that tested their reaction speed, problem-solving ability and memory. The children were asked how much time they spend playing video games each day and then divided into two groups. All underwent functional MRI to measure brain activity while volunteers wearing digital virtual reality glasses performed various tasks.
The scans showed that children who played video games had, on average, more activity in an area of the brain associated with attention and memory. They also had more activity in their gyri, which may also be due to better impulse suppression than the non-playing group.
Not only did the children involved in games get higher grades, they also had a more active area of the brain responsible for each function. This study suggests that the popular pastime may also have cognitive benefits that merit further study.
The researchers say that video games can improve attention and impulse control because they require these skills to be practiced. However, the study was observational, meaning it could not prove whether the increase in intelligence was due to video games or another factor. The scientists also didn’t categorize games like action or strategy or whether they were single-player or multiplayer, which could affect the results. Previously, scientists have found that the passion for computer games does not increase aggressiveness in children.