Health Care

Playing shooter video games damages the brain, study suggests

Playing shooter video games damages the brain, study suggests”

So are video games bad or good for the brain?

Researchers have said that after these findings, neuroscientists need to think twice before suggesting patients play video games indiscriminately to stimulate their brain. And reduced grey matter in this part of the brain has previously been linked to higher risks of brain illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and Alzheimer's disease. According to new research, the answer depends on the type of game and the type of brain.

Many of those who played action games, such as Call of Duty or Killzone, saw their hippocampus shrink. The Super Mario games, on the other hand, led to an increase of grey matter in the hippocampus for all participants.

PERFECT TIMING How long should you really wait to have sex after giving birth? "[.] Action video games designed without in-game Global Positioning System, or [without] wayfinding routes overlaid on the game's display for the player to follow, could better encourage spatial learning during action video game playing".

"There's evidence that stimulation of the caudate nucleus can directly inhibit the hippocampus, especially under stress", said West, explaining that the caudate nucleus has evolved to work efficiently under pressure, even the self-inflicted stress of a video game. Its author, Greg West, discovered that regular players of popular first-person shooters have less grey matter present in the hippocampus. Some experts believe these adverse effects have been overstated, but a new study from the Université de Montréal has found habitually playing them may actually harm your brain.

However, there's another important part of the brain called the striatum that counterbalances the hippocampus. The caudate nucleus is central to your brain's "autopilot" functions and reward system, helping us know when to eat, drink, and procreate.

"If action video games lead to decreases in grey matter in the hippocampus [of young adults], caution should be exerted when encouraging their use".

Players were also split into two groups, "response learners" and "spatial learners".

Once their learning strategy was established, participants then began playing the action and 3D-platform video games. Response learners can be likened to the twitch gamer who navigates through an environment based on input memory. And that same subgroup that tested as response learners showed a distinct loss in hippocampal grey matter, similar to results from habitual action gamers. This would allow the gamer to get around using landmarks included in the world of the game, which can strengthen spatial learning.

Ninety hours of playing shooter games tended to lead to hippocampus atrophy, however playing for the same duration on 3D challenges, which rely more on spatial orientation instinctive responses, increased grey matter within the hippocampal memory system.

So what's the takeaway for parents? Playing action video games has the potential to inhibit activity in the hippocampus, but only in response learners.

So if you want to play it safe, it's better to stick with "Super Mario".

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