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Thursday, 22-November-2018


Playing video games leads to significant structural and functional changes in the brain, new study reveals

Studies looking at the effects of playing video games on brain structure and function have been compiled and summarized by scientists. Playing video games regularly has shown to make the brain’s attention and visuospatial regions more efficient. Scientists have also looked into the brain’s mechanism involved in video game addiction.
Ever since the rapid evolution of technology, video games have been an integral part of our daily routines. The average age of a person playing video games was 35 in 2016 which only shows that more and more adults are incorporating playing video games in their lifestyles. Playing video games isn’t for children anymore. The recent developments in smartphone technology have led to an increase in number of “casual gamers” that play on their smartphones and tablets during spare times throughout the day. This emerging trend has piqued the curiosity of scientists and researchers about studying the behavioral and structural changes that occur whilst playing video games. 
“Games have sometimes been praised or demonized, often without real data backing up those claims. Moreover, gaming is a popular activity, so everyone seems to have strong opinions on the topic,” says Marc Palaus, first author on the review that was published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
The review conducted by Palaus and his colleagues compiled results from over 116 different scientific studies with 22 studies looking into structural changes in the brain and 100 studies on the behavioral and/or functional changes caused by playing video games. The studies showed compelling evidence of video games causing significant structural and functional changes in the brain along with notable behavioural changes as well. 
The studies revealed that playing video games clearly improves attention, both sustained and selective. Furthermore, the studies showed that the brain regions associated with attention perform more efficiently in gamers. Playing video games has also shown to improve the efficacy and size of the visuospatial regions of the brain. It was also concluded that people who played video games regularly had an enlarged right hippocampus.
The researchers also studied video game addiction called “Internet gaming disorder” and how it affects the reward circuitry in the brain. It was found that people suffering from video game addiction showed the same structural and functional changes as those found in people who are addicted to substances. 
“We focused on how the brain reacts to video game exposure, but these effects do not always translate to real-life changes,” says Palaus.