12:58am Sunday 22 October 2017

What impact do video games have on the brain?

Picture : Activision

Past research has shown that people who use caudate nucleus-dependent navigation strategies have decreased grey matter and lower functional brain activity in the hippocampus.

Video gamers now spend a collective three billion hours per week in front of their screens. In fact, it is estimated that the average young person will have spent some 10,000 hours gaming by the time they are 21. The effects of intense video gaming on the brain are only beginning to be understood.

Why it’s important

The study was conducted among a group of adult gamers who were spending at least six hours per week on this activity.

“For more than a decade now, research has demonstrated that action video game players display more efficient visual attention abilities, and our current study has once again confirmed this notion,” says first author Dr. Gregory West. “However, we also found that gamers rely on the caudate-nucleus to a greater degree than non-gamers. Past research has shown that people who rely on caudate nucleus-dependent strategies have lower grey matter and functional brain activity in the hippocampus. This means that people who spend a lot of time playing video games may have reduced hippocampal integrity, which is associated with an increased risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

Because past research has shown video games as having positive effects on attention, it is important for future research to confirm that gaming does not have a negative effect on the hippocampus. Future research using neuroimaging will be necessary to further qualify our current findings, and these studies should investigate the direct effects of specific video games on the integrity of the reward system and hippocampus.

Funding information:

·         Fonds de Recherche Nature et Technologies – Team Grant #181390 (G.W., V.B).

·         Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada – Discovery Grant #436140-2013 (G.W.)

·         Fonds de recherche Nature et technologies – Early Researcher Grant #181515 (G.W.)

Note: The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal

Source: Douglas Mental Health University Institute

Media contact:

Florence Meney
Media Relations
Communications and Public Affairs
Douglas Mental Health University Institute
Tel.: 514-761-6131, ext. 2769
florence.meney@douglas.mcgill.ca

William Raillant-Clark
International Press Attaché
University of Montreal (officially Université de Montréal)
Tel: 514-343-7593


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